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Solar Cells Made Obsolete

3D rectennas aim at 40-to-90% efficiency
9/28/2015 11:00 AM EDT
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R_Colin_Johnson
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Re: The value of federal research to private sector
R_Colin_Johnson   10/1/2015 7:45:57 PM
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Yes, the existig solar cell makers will be doing everything they can to improve the efficiency of their panels, both to beat each other and to be a moving target to upstart technologies which sometimes take decades to perfect.

R_Colin_Johnson
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Re: Misleading Title
R_Colin_Johnson   10/1/2015 7:43:37 PM
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Many who know these researchers say that if it can be done, they will reach 40% and beyond, but of course not all research pans out as planned--and is sometimes bought up by competitors who intentionally kill the project--patents and all--just to protect their investments.

R_Colin_Johnson
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Re: The value of federal research to private sector
R_Colin_Johnson   10/1/2015 7:39:53 PM
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Yes, you are right. 90% or maybe even 99% of "breakthroughs" run into some kind of insurmountable hurdle, or are just bought up and killed by a competitor protecting his own turf. Unfortunately, there is no way to know ahead of time which will fail and which will change-the-world (for the better). That's why its great that government grants a willing to take chances, in order to sift through and find the winning needle in the haystack.

Andrzej11
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Re: The value of federal research to private sector
Andrzej11   10/1/2015 7:27:45 PM
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"Today it's a Kyocera panel at 16% efficiency...."

Contrary to the above, there actually has been a slow improvement in conversion efficiency. One of the best on the market at present is the SunPower panel at over 21% efficiency. See here, http://us.sunpower.com/sites/sunpower/files/media-library/data-sheets/ds-x21-series-335-345-residential-solar-panels-datasheet.pdf .

When SolarCity brings its plant in South Buffalo online next year, their panels will exhibit a conversion efficiency of at least 21%. With further design optimization they claim they will be at 24% conversion efficiency not too long after.

Andrzej11
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Misleading Title
Andrzej11   10/1/2015 7:26:06 PM
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The title of this article is misleading. Given that the broadband rectenna efficiency limit is 44%, it would be quite difficult to reach 90% conversion efficiency using the sun, which is not monochromatic, as the power source. It would be quite amazing if they were able to reach even the 40% that they claim. I wonder if they intend to use spectral splitting to achieve this very ambitious goal?

SteveHarris0
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Re: The value of federal research to private sector
SteveHarris0   10/1/2015 4:49:31 PM
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This is exciting technology, I hope it truly can reach 40% efficiency. Heck even 30% would be fantastic if it is truly low cost to produce. I agree with the judicious use of federal funds for basic research, where the cost to get to a proof-of-concept stage is fairly low, it can be money well spent. HOWEVER (I'm climbing on my soapbox now) there is a certain toxic branch of science that has consumed, and continues to do so, a far larger piece of the grant money pie than is reasonable (billions per year), with virtually nothing except scary stories to show for it. It is trashing the reputation of federally funded research, if it is not contained soon it will ruin it for all researchers, and we will be worse off as a nation. The appropriate number is millions, not billions, per year for this branch. You probably know already which branch I am referring to. It is climate research. Please, for the sake of western civilization, help put an end to this gravy train of corruption and greed. If you need proof this is occuring, please start digging for yourself. Above all please don't ignore what is happening. Thanks for reading.  Steve Harris, BSEE '92

Roy Smith
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Rectennas
Roy Smith   9/30/2015 5:21:38 PM
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As many have said - we see 'breakthroughs' on an almost daily basis and then never hear of them again.  Nevertheless, many of those 'breakthroughs' morph into something else before getting to market, so we don't necessarily recognise them.  This technology looks fascinating to me - partly because it has the potential to make a really practical solar energy converter, but mainly because I wonder if there is the possibility of applying it to nuclear reactors.  Could the intense gamma radiation be directly converted into electrical energy?  Could the neutrons be used to flouresce some material and then convert the light directly into electrical energy?  Anything that could convert the fission products directly into electrical energy rather than into steam which is then run through a turbine to create electricity would give us a very attractive source of power.

OldFort
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A Hopeful Future
OldFort   9/29/2015 8:48:26 AM
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Bara is a heck of a researcher, so I am very hopeful that he will be able to follow through with this. I worked with him at Purdue when he was getting his Ph.D. and he was able to plow through a variety of roadblocks. This is one invention that I have a great deal of hope in.

 

matvp
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Re: The value of federal research to private sector
matvp   9/28/2015 9:49:08 PM
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I'm perhaps too jaded but I've seen lots of "game changing" research with "5 year" horizons for commercialization come and go with nary a peep after the initial spurt of positive press. As with many other "breakthroughs" I hope I'm proven wrong on this one. But a cursory google search of 2010 solar related "breakthroughs" shows an amazing menagerie of technologies with promise. However the reality seems to be far off. Indeed we seem to have taken a step backwards. The most efficient panel in 2010 was a Sanyo panel at nearly 17.5% efficiency. Today it's a Kyocera panel at 16% efficiency seeing has how Sanyo was bought out and no longer sells the highly efficient panel. C'est la vie I suppose.

As for government funding being strictly a force for good, well, there's the good and the bad. Solyndra, Crescent Dunes, Cash for Clunkers, etc come to mind for the bad and that's all without trying. 

R_Colin_Johnson
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Re: The value of federal research to private sector
R_Colin_Johnson   9/28/2015 12:50:48 PM
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Steve, yes you are right. In addition, it usually doesn't take billions or even millions to fund the most experimental, highest risk, highest payoff research.  All the researchers usually need is a few hundred thousand to prove the concept, then non-federal funding usually fills the gap to developing a manufacturable products.

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