Increasing the amount of electricity a solar panel produces is one of the most effective ways to reduce the cost of solar power.
MIT’s Technology Review reports on a new $2.4 million project funded by the U.S. Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy aims to greatly increase the amount of sunlight that becomes electricity.
Harry Atwater, a professor of applied physics and materials science at Caltech, is working on cells to sort sunlight into eight to 10 different colors (a rainbow!) and direct those to a second layer that contains an array of solar cells matched to each color. Light is absorbed more efficiently, and more energy is converted to electricity, rather than heat.
Most solar panels convert less than 20 percent of the energy of the sunlight that falls on them into electricity. Atwater’s goal is a conversion efficiency of more than 50 percent, which would double the amount of power generated by solar panels of any size.
Rainbow solar power! This technology will make solar more affordable for homeowners and industry, alike.