New discovery in photovoltaic technology

IBM has announced a revolutionary outcome in research on photovoltaic technology for "solar parks", can significantly reduce the cost of the exploitation of solar energy to generate electricity.

Imitating the games of children who use a magnifying glass to burn a leaf or the technique that sometimes use the campers to turn the fire, IBM scientists have used a wide lens for concentrating solar power, capturing about 230 watts, the highest value achieved in so small a space: a solar cell of a square centimeter. This energy is then converted into 70 watts of electricity used, about five times the energy captured from cells typically used in solar parks, which rely on concentrating photovoltaic, or CPV. It is the largest amount of energy available from a cell so small.

If it succeeds in overcoming the challenges to move the project from the laboratory to the factory, IBM believes that can significantly reduce the cost of a typical solar park based CPV. Through the use of a very small number of photovoltaic cells in a solar park and the concentration of a larger amount of light in each cell with larger lenses, the IBM system allows a significant advantage in terms of cost, with fewer Total components and new production opportunities.

For example, from a 200 sun system (a "sun" is a measure of energy captured at noon on a clear summer day), where he concentrated on the cell about 20 watts of power, to 2,000 sun, where on the cell concentrate 200 watts, the IBM system cuts the number of photovoltaic cells and other components by a factor of 10.


The trick lies in IBM's ability to cool the tiny solar cell. Concentrating the equivalent of 2,000 sun on a small area thus generating sufficient heat to melt stainless steel, which the researchers tested directly in their experiments. But relying on the expertise gained in the cooling of computer chips, the team managed to cool the solar cell by more than 1,600 degrees Celsius to just 85 degrees Celsius.

The initial results of this project were presented at the 33rd conference of the IEEE Photovoltaic Specialists, where the IBM researchers have shown in detail how the interface of a liquid metal cooling is able to transfer the heat from solar cell to a cooling plate copper, with an efficiency unmatched by any other technology available today.

The IBM research team has developed a system that has achieved results by coupling a revolutionary solar cell business in a cooling liquid metal IBM, using methods developed in the area of microprocessors.

Specifically, the IBM team used a very thin layer of liquid metal, made from a compound of gallium and indium, which was then applied between the chip and the cooling block. These layers, called thermal interface layers, transfer the heat from the chip to the cooling block, so as to maintain the low temperature of the chip. The solution to the liquid metal IBM offers the best thermal performance available, and the technology has been developed to cool computer chips for high-power.

We conclude by saying that IBM is exploring four main areas of photovoltaic research: using current technologies to develop silicon solar cells more economical and efficient development of new photovoltaic thin film products in solution (rather than in a vacuum) concentrators and photovoltaic generation photovoltaic architectures based upon nanostructures future, such as semiconductor quantum points and nanoconduttori.

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