3D Solar collection concept (via Solar3D)
An obvious draw back to the conventional solar panel is that it attempts to capture, in a flat area, a highly reflective entity which travels through three-dimensional space. Electrical engineer, Nadir Dagli, an expert in photonics and nanophotonics, from a company called Solar3D, is thinking out side the conventional plane, proposing a solar cell which exploits the reflectivity of photons by designing a three dimensional solar cell.
This 3D solar cell attempts to manage incident light by using new fiber optic materials and techniques. The cell is comprised of a volume, in which light is collected and reflected with in it. This type of collection allows for the photons to bounce inside the cell until it is absorbed by a photovoltaic cell.
The orientations of the photovoltaic cells increase the cells efficiency in three ways. They allow more time for photons to be absorbed, wiring is placed under the cells and will not block incident photons and the electron hole pairs created by the ejected electron have to travel a lot less to the anodes located directly under and thus will have less chance of being reabsorbed. There three issues play an important part in the inefficiency of conventional flat solar cells. This three dimensional geometry aims to harness the energy lost by the estimated 30% of photons that bounce off of the surface of conventional solar cells.
Micro-scale prototypes have been achieved, but nothing full sized just yet. These early tests have resulted in an efficiency of 25.47%, which is already higher than the industry norm of about 23%. They are also currently searching a partner to fabricate their semiconductors.
Jim Nelson, President and CEO of Solar3D explained that their ultimate goal is not only to increase the efficiency of solar cells, but do it in a what which is cheaper than conventional solar panels available today. He explained that if the results of their preliminary testing continue, this goal will be reached.