[fullwidth background_color=”” background_image=”” background_parallax=”none” enable_mobile=”no” parallax_speed=”0.3″ background_repeat=”no-repeat” background_position=”left top” video_url=”” video_aspect_ratio=”16:9″ video_webm=”” video_mp4=”” video_ogv=”” video_preview_image=”” overlay_color=”” overlay_opacity=”0.5″ video_mute=”yes” video_loop=”yes” fade=”no” border_size=”0px” border_color=”” border_style=”” padding_top=”20″ padding_bottom=”20″ padding_left=”0″ padding_right=”0″ hundred_percent=”no” equal_height_columns=”no” hide_on_mobile=”no” menu_anchor=”” class=”” id=””][title size=”1″ content_align=”left” style_type=”default” sep_color=”” class=”” id=””]Engineers at Stanford cool solar cells, enhancing conversion efficiency[/title][fusion_text]A long-standing difficulty in the solar industry has recently been overcome by Stanford engineers – solar cells can now be cooled.

Shanhui Fan, Aaswath P. Raman and Linxiao Zhu of Stanford, together created cooling capabilities in the form of a transparent overlay. Solar cells lose efficiency at converting sunlight to electricity as they get hotter, so the transparent overlay radiates heat away from the solar cells, and even in full sunlight, assisting the cells to retain their conversion efficiency.

Cooler solar cells = more photons converted into energy!

Made of patterned silica material, the transparent overlay allows the solar cells to be powered by sunlight, while capturing and radiating away the heat as infrared rays. Also called “radiative cooling” by the inventors, the group published works last year in Nature about their ultrathin material that radiated infrared heat rays directly back toward space without warming the atmosphere – the same principles were applied to the solar cells to increase solar energy conversion efficiencies. During testing on Stanford’s roof, the new transparent overlay allowed visible light to pass through the cells, also cooling the absorber by up to 23 degrees Farenheit, which is a significant increase in cell efficiency by more than 1%.

 

The inventors believe they can scale their project for commercial and industrial use, and recommend that their transparent overlays be used in dry and clear environments.

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