A group of scientist from Sandia National Laboratories have invented tiny photovoltaic cells the size of glitter which could possibly change how solar energy is used and harvested. Despite their size, the cells show remarkable capability to give traditional solar panels genuine competition. The new solar cells made from silicon crystals are likely to be cheaper and will also have higher efficiencies than present 6 square inch panels.
These new cells are made with microelectromechanical and microelectronic systems which enable them to have a wider range of use, increased performance and lower cost. The inventors think that these cells could be produced on a mass scale quite easily by making use of current manufacture technology and also used to build integrated photovoltaics, tents and even articles of clothing. Also, the panels built from these cells could also have integrated intelligent controls, with imprinted circuits, inverters and possibly storage included right onto the chip.
As the scientists have come up with quite a number of advantages of the glitter-sized cells, the principal ones are their continuous power generation ability in the event where some cells fail in the panel. Also, with the cells being of such a tiny size, their shade tolerance to structures obstructing sunlight is considerably better than that of traditional PV panels, as with parts of the panel obstructed, the other parts continue to produce electricity.
The group of scientists suppose that a pick-and-place machine, a tool in wide commercial use, could be used in assembling upwards of 130,000 glitter cells every hour using electrical contact points on a pre-established substrate. To boost their energy production even further, low-priced solar concentrators could be put on each cell, making these tiny cells produce even more power an inexpensive cost.