3D solar cell structures found to increase power output.
Researchers at MIT have found a way to produce more solar electricity within a given area by building 3D structures to display the solar panels on.
While most research into improvements in solar power go towards improving performance in the photovoltaic cells themselves, the team found that this relatively simple method boosted power output by between two and 20 times, compared to fixed flat panels with the same base area.
The biggest boosts in power were seen in the situations where improvements are most needed: in locations far from the equator, in winter months and on cloudier days.
The basic physical reason for the improvement in power output — and for the more uniform output over time — is that the 3-D structures’ vertical surfaces can collect much more sunlight during mornings, evenings and winters, when the sun is closer to the horizon, says co-author Marco Bernardi, a graduate student in MIT’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering.