Solar Concentrator

Scientists at MIT have announced the development of organic dyes which, when applied to a pane of glass, can catch solar energy and direct it to the edge of the glass for collection by photo-voltaic cells. The Guardian has the details

Sunlight is concentrated in existing solar power devices using large, mobile mirrors that track the sun as it moves across the sky. But these can be expensive to deploy and maintain. In the MIT device, called an “organic solar concentrator” and described in the latest issue of Science, the researchers painted a mixture of organic dyes onto the surface of a pane of glass. The dyes trap different wavelengths of sunlight and then guide the energy along the glass towards the PV cells at the edges.

“The point of all this is to get away with using far fewer solar cells,” said Marc Baldo, an electrical engineer at MIT. “The concentrator collects light over its whole front surface, but the solar cells need only cover the area of the edges.”

As the edges of a glass panel can often be 100 times smaller in area than the surface itself, he added, solar panels would need 100 times fewer PV cells to collect the same energy. “So we can save money. Since industry can’t produce enough solar cells to satisfy demand, this might also be a good way to stretch production.”