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The most expensive, carefully designed, and complicated solar panels in the world operate at about 40% efficiency. That means that, for every bit of sunlight that hits the panel, only 40% of it is turned into electricity.
Steven Novack of the Idaho National Laboratories came up with an inexpensive, foldable solar panel that may turn out to be up to 80% efficient.
The trick is nanotechnology. The surface of the material is printed with miniscule nano-antennae that capture infra-red radiation, the kind that the sun puts out in abundance, and is even available at night. Television antennas absorbe large wavelength energy, so in order to absorb ultra-small wavelength energy (photons) they had to create ultra-small antennas.
There's currently no way to capture the energy being created.
So while there are electrons pouring out of the nano-antennas when exposed to the sun, there is no way to capture those electrons. But don't worry, those geniuses in Idaho are working on that already. By putting a tiny capacitor, or AC/DC converter in the center of every tiny tiny antenna, they think they could make this new kind of solar panel export all that energy it's created without raising the price, or lowering the efficiency too much.
An array of nanoantennas, printed in gold and imaged with a scanning electron microscope. The deposited wire is roughly a thousand atoms thick. A flexible panel of interconnected nanoantennas may one day replace heavy, expensive solar panels.
Originally posted by biggie smalls
they're not the same staple food crop as corn.
Originally posted by Thain Esh Kelch
There are just 2 problems with this technology:
• It captures infrared light, meaning that the energy input isnt nowhere near as high as sunlight; ie. need to capture more to make the same energyoutput as sunlight based.
• The frequency at which the energy is captured at, is at this point the largest problem. Converting it to 50/60 Hz which we can use for anything, is well, quite a hurdle..
But hey, new technology is always welcome. I've always wondered why IR wasn't exploited more! And this is apparently a very cheap to produce technology..
Originally posted by coven
I personally would love nothing more than for Ethanol to be the replacement. If I wanna eat an ear of corn I still can... But maybe then we could finally have a Naturally sweetened beverage (i.e. sodas)