Next Generation Solar Panels- Power Via Silver Nano-Antennas

Source: David Shankbone/wikimedia

Researchers in Finland have reportedly developed a next-generation solar panel utilizing silver nano particle antennas to trap incoming solar light.  The silver nano-antennas reportedly drastically increase photovoltaic cell efficiency (the percentage of incoming solar light converted into electrical energy- approximately only 20% in current solar panels), and new fabrication techniques allow printing the silver nano-antenna at a low cost. 

Jeffery Christian and the CPM Group’s dire predictions notwithstanding, it appears silver’s industrial demand won’t be decreasing anytime soon.

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From ABC.net.au:

Light-trapping, silver nano-antennas could dramatically improve the performance of solar panels by catching more light, according to a new study.

A team of physicists, including Professor Constantin Simovski from Finland’s Aalto University, has developed theoretical designs that could increase photovoltaic cell efficiency in a commercially viable way.

It proposes incorporating chessboard-patterned arrays of tiny silver nano-antennas into solar panels.

This would trap more incoming light, allowing it to be preferentially re-radiated through the photovoltaic slab, improving efficiency.

New fabrication techniques for printing a nano-antenna array on thin film means it could be done at low cost.

“Pieces of the film with printed nano-antenna arrays can be prepared separately from solar cells so that the price of every piece will be small,” report the researchers on the pre-press website ArXiv.org.

“We have demonstrated our nano-antenna arrays operate significantly better than the structures based on anti-reflecting coatings.”

Existing technology uses coatings to reduce the amount of light reflected off the solar cell, but this fails to prevent up to half of the light passing through the back of the solar cell’s thin film and being lost.

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