Solar3D, Inc. has developed 3-dimensional solar cell technology for some years now, but only a few days ago, announced that they successfully fabricated their first prototype:
Above is an image captured by a scanning electron microscope, clearly showing the photovoltaic microstructure this new next generation solar cell is based on.
Photons (or light particles) are trapped inside these structures, bouncing around until they convert into electrons, which then flow through the electric circuit. In theory, this would lead to significant higher efficiency rates than what you would expect from a 2-dimensional solar cell.
Another unique feature these solar cells have is “wide angle light collection”. The surface of the solar cell is better at capturing light from higher incident angles, which means that the it has the potential of capturing more sun early in the morning and late in the evening.
“We estimate that our patent-pending 3-dimensional cell can produce 200% of the power output of conventional solar cells. This will reduce the investment payback period of solar panel systems by more than 40%.”
Solar3D is making a tough claim. Their theoretical models look promising, but more rigorous testing is required to validate the potential of their technology. Their new prototype will hopefully soon give us better sense of this.
“We believe that conventional flat 2D solar cell designs are a thing of the past. The next level of performance will be found in 3D, which will finally unleash the full potential of converting sunlight to electricity for the benefit of the world,” says Jim Nelson, CEO of Solar3D.
Image credit & source: Solar3D