Solar Power Goes Underground

It has been reported that the scientists in Georgia and New Jersey are busy in devising ways to take off the solar panels from the roofs of homes and cars, and moving them into basements and walls.

fiber optic

This will enable the homeowners to decorate their rooftops however they want, as the new panels would continuously provide solar power while protecting the delicate photovoltaic cells.

Zhong Wang, a scientist at Georgia Tech said that this might be the world’s first 3-D solar panel system.

The scientists at Georgia Tech are aiming to capture sunlight by using fiber optics cable instead of the traditional solar panels. They will then turn it into electricity by using the optics cables, coated with zinc oxide.

Although the fiber optic cables would be installed on the roof of a house, car or any other structure, but only the very tip of the cables would be exposed to the outside environment.

Sunlight will enter the tip of the fiber and travel to the end. It will then be absorbed and turned into electrical energy along the way. Once the light reaches the end of the fiber, it will bounce back, giving the zinc oxide another chance to absorb any light missed during the first pass.

The fibers can be cut to any length depending on the needs of the user. A 10-centimeter (four-inch) fiber would conservatively generate about 0.5 volts.

In order to power a 10-watt light bulb, about 10,000 fibers, each about 10 centimeters (four inches) long would be required. Although it might sound like a lot of fibers, but it’s about the same size as a small handful of human hair.

However, the fibers aren’t very efficient. Currently, they are only able to convert about 3.3 percent of all the light that enters them into electricity. On other hand, the silicon-based solar cells can absorb 30 percent of light.

The scientists are hopeful that further work could get his number up to 8 percent.

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