Army researchers at the Redstone Arsenal have announced that they have achieved a significant breakthrough in solar energy production. They have created a tiny photovoltaic solar cell, which will convert light energy to electrical energy. Building and operating this photovoltaic solar panel is less expensive and more robust and its size is also smaller than any other panel available in present time.
A photovoltaic (PV) solar cell is a specialized semiconductor diode, which converts visible light to direct current. The solar light is absorbed efficiently by a material and then it is converted into charge carriers, then these charge carriers generate the electrical current and this current is known as photocurrent.
Now every solar panel which exists currently, are dependent on a pure silicon construction. The band gap (band gap is the wavelength of light that can be absorbed and converted into electricity) of a single silicon crystal is exceptionally narrow as compared to the full spectrum shinning down from the Sun. This means that the traditional and conventional panels are lagging behind in potential power and infrared and ultraviolet wavelengths are also damaging the panel by causing them to heat, warp and crack.
Now let’s talk about the new panel created by army researchers, this panel sandwiches excellent thin layer of metal like gold and silver between the semiconductor layers. Thanks to these added layers, the panels delivers a wider band gap for generating the energy and this can be used to reflect the harmful rays. The most interesting thing about this panel is that, it generates the same amount of energy irrespective of the angle that sunlight is hitting. This will also reduce the price because there is no need of expensive and motorized Sun tracking stand.
Wayne Davenport, Optical Sciences Function Chief of the Weapons Development and Integration Directorate has explained it in a statement, “we have invested in many basic researches without giving much thinking on the near-term profits, as the short term profits are sometimes unidentified but it is worth investing in those products.” Davenport has also said that “The Army’s research laboratories at AMRDEC continue a legacy of high quality research projects and I expect to see many more of these type projects transition to the Warfighter in the future.”