Do you believe that someday, a solar power harvester could take shape of a wand or antenna? Latest news about breakthrough of way to concentrate solar energy 100 times more efficient than a regular PV cell using carbon nanotubes. This is a brilliant invention by MIT chemical engineers.

solar-funnelThey are, postdoctoral associate Jae-Hee Han, left, graduate student Geraldine Paulus and associate professor Michael Strano built a fiber of carbon nanotubes that can concentrate solar energy.

And if you have been complaining lately about the bulky size of your current photovoltaic cells on top of your roof, the new PV using carbon nanotubes is able to take the shape of an antenna. The carbon nanotubes is capable to capture and focus solar energy, significantly improve and allow much smaller and more powerful solar arrays.

“Instead of having your whole roof be a photovoltaic cell, you could have little spots that were tiny photovoltaic cells, with antennas that would drive photons into them,” says Strano.


Another exciting part of the invention is on the cost of manufacturing. According to information released by Gizmag, cost of carbon nanotubes has been coming down in recent years as the chemical companies enlarge their manufacturing capacity. Currently, carbon nanotubes priced at about pennies per pound, as polymers are sold.

Strano also added that, “With this level of material cost, the addition to a solar cell might be negligible compared to the fabrication and raw material cost of the cell itself, just as coatings and polymer components are small parts of the cost of a photovoltaic cell.”

At current stage, the nanotubes bundles is loosing about 13 percent of the energy absorbed, therefore, Strano and his team is now working toward ways to minimize the energy lost to a mere one percent.

Image credit: Patrick Gillooly

[ Source: Gizmag ; MIT ]