Researchers' Refinement Increases Solar Concentrator Efficiency
January 19, 2012
A team of UC Merced professors and students discovered that changing the shape of a solar concentrator significantly increases its efficiency, bringing its use closer to reality
Luminiscent solar concentrators are designed to absorb solar radiation over a broad range of colors and re-emit it over a narrower range (for example, only red), a process known as down-converting. This light is transported to solar cells for photocurrent generation. The quantum dots embedded in the concentrator are the materials that carry out this color conversion.
The biggest advantage they offer over traditional solar cells is that they can work even in diffuse sunlight, like on cloudy days. And because of this, they do not need to directly face the sun at all times, eliminating the need for tracking mechanisms.
Ghosh said the discovery could make commercially viable luminescent solar concentrators a reality, especially because the design enhances performance while using the same number of quantum dots, therefore without being more costly.
This saves on infrastructure costs and also opens up the possibility that the collectors can be integrated onto vertical surfaces like walls and windows. The next step is to develop a large array of hollow cylindrical luminescent solar concentrators and track the efficiency of the panel.