Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

CleanTechnica
Researchers at the University of Warwick in England went back to the ideas of Nikola Tesla and Albert Einstein to create a new double glazed solar panel that could also be used as a window.

Clean Power

Scientists Channel Tesla & Einstein To Invent New Double-Glazed Solar Panel

Researchers at the University of Warwick in England went back to the ideas of Nikola Tesla and Albert Einstein to create a new double glazed solar panel that could also be used as a window.

Let’s begin by saying this is a story about a laboratory experiment that may be good news for renewable energy advocates in the future. It has no practical industrial application at the present time. But how a technological breakthrough in solar panel design came to be is fascinating.

double glazed solar panelDr Gavin Bell and Dr Yorck Ramachers are researchers in the physics department at the University of Warwick in Coventry, England. They recognized that conventional photovoltaic solar panel technology has reached a practical limit when it comes to improving efficiency and lowering manufacturing costs. Any gains from this point forward are likely to be incremental at best.

So, the pair went back to the research and writings of Nikola Tesla and Albert Einstein to see if the work those pioneers did could point the way to a better panel design. A present, a solar panel relies on a vacuum between the outer surface and the solar cells inside. What if, Bell and Ramachers asked themselves, they used a gas like argon to fill that space? What they envisioned was really a variation of a modern double-glazed window.

In the prototype the scientists built, the outer pane is transparent and conducts electricity. The inner pane is coated with a special material developed in the lab which releases electrons when illuminated by sunlight. They call that layer a “photocathode.” In the presence of sunlight, electrons are kicked loose from the photocathode, travel through the gas. and are collected by the outer pane. Dr. Bell says, “It’s satisfying to find a new twist on ideas dating back to the start of the 20th century, and as a materials physicist it is fascinating to be looking for materials which would operate in an environment so different to standard photocathodes.”

Bell and Ramachers hope their work will act as a catalyst for further investigation by materials engineers. The optimum composition of the photocathode layer is yet to be determined. Although, they think a thin diamond film would be very durable. They also think the photocathode layer could have variable transparency, making it suitable for solar windows. Filling the inside of the panel with an inert gas like argon could also cost less to manufacture than creating a vacuum.

“We think the materials challenge is really critical here so we wanted to encourage the materials science community to get creative,” says Bell. “Our device is radically different from standard photovoltaics, and can even be adapted for other green technologies such as turning heat directly into electricity, so we hope this work will inspire new advances.”

We know you get tired of hearing news of potential breakthroughs in the lab that promise better electric car batteries, better solar panels, or better ways to make hydrogen from water. Most of those developments never make it out of the laboratory. There is no information available yet on how much electricity one of these gas-filled double-glazed solar panels can generate, how efficient it might be, or what it might cost. All those answers are yet to be supplied or discovered.

What deserves our attention, though, is the willingness of two scientists to go back and do a total rethink of solar panel technology. Maybe nothing will come of their work. But then again, they may have just made a quantum leap in renewable energy technology. This is one story of an advance made in a laboratory worthy of following.

Source: University of Warwick

 
Appreciate CleanTechnica’s originality? Consider becoming a CleanTechnica Member, Supporter, Technician, or Ambassador — or a patron on Patreon.
 
 

Advertisement
 
Have a tip for CleanTechnica, want to advertise, or want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.

Written By

Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his homes in Florida and Connecticut or anywhere else the Singularity may lead him. You can follow him on Twitter but not on any social media platforms run by evil overlords like Facebook.

Comments

#1 most loved electric vehicle, solar energy, and battery news & analysis site in the world.

 

Support our work today!

Power CleanTechnica: $3/Month

Tesla News Solar News EV News Data Reports

Advertisement

Advertisement

Advertisement

Tesla News

EV Reviews

Home Efficiency

You May Also Like

Cars

Recently I had the exquisite pleasure of getting a ride in an original 1913 Detroit Electric car built by the Anderson Electric Car Company,...

Energy Storage

Researchers at Warwick University in the UK say they have found a way to make a redox flow battery that costs less than $25...

Clean Power

The Maid of the Mist, the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, New York Power Authority, and ABB announced today...

Health

It’s easy to look at history and judge the ignorance of past generations. We know that the earth is not flat (well, most of...

Copyright © 2021 CleanTechnica. The content produced by this site is for entertainment purposes only. Opinions and comments published on this site may not be sanctioned by and do not necessarily represent the views of CleanTechnica, its owners, sponsors, affiliates, or subsidiaries.