Substantial boosts to the efficiencies of solar panels can be achieved by utilizing micro-machined, nearly flat, Fresnel lenses, according to new research from Tianjin University in China.
The improvements are the result of a new technology that allows for the crafting of an array of microscopic cones on the Fresnel lens — these cones, used instead of concentric ridges, allow for a more precise control of the depth to which the light is focused by the lens.
The boost achieved by this new approach is quite substantial — initial testing has shown that a peak power can be achieved that is at least four times higher than that possible with a standard panel at low resistance. Certainly a significant boost, but one that is limited to certain conditions — “the difference in power falls off quickly as the device’s resistance rises, which it does as it gets hotter under sunlight and as a byproduct of its generating electricity.”
But, as the researchers note, the differential would still be enough to “boost its electrical output substantially, offsetting the additional cost of the Fresnel collector so that the overall cost of solar panels might be reduced.”
Speaking on the topic of possible uses, the researchers state that the application of this technology to older, less-efficient solar panels might work very well — being viable in places, and for applications, where top-of-the-line solar panels aren’t economically practical.
The research was performed by Y Cheng, XD Zhang and GX Zhang, of the State Key Laboratory of Precision Measuring Technology & Instruments, at Tianjin University, in China.
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