Published on September 24th, 2010 | by Zachary Shahan1
Solar Antennas from MIT
Solar energy is an extremely popular technology in the US. But, still, only a tiny fraction of the population uses it.
Some reasons for that that I’ve discussed in the past are high costs (which are nearly irrelevant for many people now due to generous government subsidies, a decade of falling costs, and group solar buying and discount options).
Another big one has been lack of clear information, but that is also getting better and better.
One topic I haven’t covered a lot is lack of space, but this is also a potential problem for many people. Some people don’t have enough roof space for large, flat solar panels and don’t have anywhere else to put them either.
MIT’s New Solar Antennas
New technology researchers at MIT are working on, “solar antennas,” may be just the solution people have been waiting for.
These solar antennas get put on the roof or elsewhere, connected to tiny photovoltaic cells, and they “drive photons into them.”
The antennas are super-efficient at concentrating solar energy as well — they can “concentrate solar energy 100 times more than a regular photovoltaic cell.” If they can be produced at a decent cost, it seems to me they could even revolutionize the solar market. (But how many amazing-looking technologies never make it out of the lab or get mass-produced for an affordable price? So,… I’m not getting my hopes up too high quite yet.)
If you’re into the nitty gritty details of such technologies, here’s a little more info:
The antennas are built out of carbon nanotubes. Each antenna consists “of a fibrous rope about 10 micrometers (millionths of a meter) long and four micrometers thick, containing about 30 million carbon nanotubes.”
That doesn’t mean much to me, but maybe it does to you.
For even more details, check out the MIT news release.
I know we have a lot of technical experts from a variety of fields reading our blog — if you have some more information to share or comments to make on this technology, feel free to do so in the comments below!
Photo Credit: Patrick Gillooly via MIT