Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems have found a way to capture and make use of short-wavelength infrared solar radiation previously been unavailable to most silicon solar cells. The researchers used an up-converter on the backside of specially adapted two-sided solar cells to convert a portion of the infrared radiation -- which passes through such cells unabsorbed -- to visible light, which can then be detected and absorbed by the cells.
According to Fraunhofer, this technique could increase the amount of sunlight that silicon cells solar can theoretically convert to electrical power from 30 percent to 40 percent.
This two-sided (bi-facial) silicon solar cell -- positioned on aluminum cylinders -- is illuminated from above by an infrared laser.
(Source: Fraunhofer ISE)
Two silicon carbide (SiC) product manufacturers recently announced that they received funding to help develop manufacturing processes to bring SiC costs down close to those of silicon. The US company Monolith Semiconductor received a $3.2 million grant from the US Department of Energy's ARPA-E program. Anvil Semiconductors Ltd. in the UK received £1 million ($1.6 million) from the Low Carbon Innovation Fund, a venture capital fund.
A Navigant Research report forecasts that revenue from microinverters and DC/DC power optimizers used in solar systems will grow from $308 million in 2013 to more than $1.9 billion in 2020 (registration required).
These module-level power electronics (MLPEs) will be two of the most disruptive technologies in the solar PV industry, the report said. Startups in this market will take share from established inverter manufacturers and will increasingly target global commercial-scale markets.
New product announcements include the first two devices in a family of Power Bank IC solutions from Active-Semi designed to integrate complete backup battery pack and standalone battery charger functionality into an SoC. The ACT2801 provides output current of up to 1.5A. The ACT2082 provides up to 2.1A output for reduced charging time when using larger batteries.
Linear Technology's LTM4633 triple-output stepdown µModule regulator features an integrated heat sink that enables each of the three outputs to deliver 10A at 1.8Vout from 12Vin with 88 percent efficiency at ambient without any external heat sink or airflow. Linear also announced the LTC3774 dual, multiphase current-mode synchronous controller for sub-milliohm DCR sensing.
Texas Instruments introduced the TPS92411 100-V floating MOSFET switch for offline LED lighting applications. The device's floating switch architecture is designed to produce low-ripple LED drive current without magnetic components.
A wireless charging receiver coil from Vishay Intertechnology is optimized for use with or without an alignment magnet. The WPC-compliant IWAS-4832EC-50 offers more than 75 percent efficiency for the wireless charging of 7-V circuitry.
Allegro MicroSystems announced a thermally enhanced Hall-effect-based high-precision linear current sensor IC for automotive, industrial, and renewable energy applications. The ACS770 has a 120-kHz typical bandwidth, a 4.1µs output rise time in response to step input current, and a 100 µΩ internal conductor resistance.
Finally, CUI has released what it calls one of the industry's smallest 50-W DC/DC converters. Available in an industry-standard package of 2x1 inches, the PQA50-D offers a 2:1 input range, a single regulated output, board mounting, and 1500-VDC isolation.