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Self-cooling Solar Panels in the Works

By Kristy Hoare on in New Solar Technology

Self-cooling Solar Panels in the Works

Scientists at Stanford University have developed self-cooling solar panels without the use of coolants or ventilators. Be still my heart! Their design proposes embedding tiny pyramid and cone shaped glass structures on an extremely thin piece of silica glass, which fits on top of panels to redirect unwanted heat back through the atmosphere.

Under normal conditions, solar panels can reach temperatures of 55 degrees, which saps efficiency and shortens the life of a solar cell. To remedy intense heating, scientists originally proposed actively cooling solar cells by ventilation or coolants, both prohibitively expensive. Luckily, the silica coating design birthed by those brainy Stanford guys not only effectively cools panels, but also boosts power output and extends the life of the solar cell.

Linxiao Zhu, a physicist at Stanford, said, "Our new approach can lower the operating temperature of solar cells passively, improving energy conversion efficiency significantly and increasing the life expectancy of solar cells. These two benefits should enable the continued success and adoption of solar cell technology."

Solar power is the most promising and widely used renewable energy source today, and though readily available, even the latest solar panel designs convert only a fraction of received energy into electricity. Part of the conversion loss is due to overheating of solar cells, which the silica coating could fix, according to research. The next step for Stanford scientists is to demonstrate radiative cooling of solar cells in an outdoor environment, hopefully setting the stage for commercial self-cooling solar panels.

Good work, Stanford guys! Self-cooling solar cells is a key element in developing highly efficient and durable solar cells that our future and planet needs.

For more information check out Optica Journal's website.

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