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This may well be the most important event to occur this month.

            This is HUGE:

 MIT team increases efficiency of solar panels

"The question is, can you make a better solar panel that you can put on somebody’s roof?" said Jonathan Mapel, an author of the study and MIT graduate student who has co-founded a startup called Covalent Solar to turn the idea into a product. "The two things that matter are: you want more power output and you want to pay less for it."

The work at MIT could potentially do both, using a simple trick that makes more efficient use of the full spectrum of sunlight.

Typically, solar cells efficiently convert only a portion of sunlight into electricity. But the MIT researchers created a plate of glass that sits on top of a normal solar panel to make better use of a broad range of wavelengths. They deposited a film of dye onto the glass that acts like a sieve -- absorbing light in the visible spectrum and directing it to special solar cells on the edge of the pane that are tuned to convert visible light into electricity. Meanwhile, the rest of the light passes through to the normal solar panel, where it can also be converted into electricity.

In the paper, the scientists demonstrated increasing the efficiency of certain types of solar cells by about 20 percent, but they believe that the system can be tuned to increase efficiency by 50 percent.

For the last 15 years I have lived in a solar heated home that I designed myself. My passive solar design only produces heat, not electricity. My house uses a number of south facing windows for direct gain, and a solar storage wall (a Trombe Wall) for heat storage after dark.

This is very encouraging news. New leadership is now waiting in the wings to deploy a new more efficient technology.

Previously diaried in Too Cool--Solar Windows in 3 Years

Originally posted to Lefty Coaster on Fri Jul 11, 2008 at 08:58 PM PDT.

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