It seems like everyone and their uncle is working on a better way to get more energy out of photovoltaic solar cells, from using quantum dots to fiber optics. Now a Swiss company has decided on a brute-force method: hit a photovoltaic cell with the equivalent of 2,000 suns.
Airlight Energy, partnering with IBM Research, ETH Zurich, and Switzerland's Interstate University of Applied Sciences, is developing a way to use parabolic reflectors to concentrate sunlight onto a set of solar cells, each only a half inch on a side.
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It's called a High Concentration PhotoVoltaic Thermal (HCPVT) system and so far, the test plant is capable of generating 25 kiloWatts of electricity.
The parabolic dish tracks the sun as it moves across the sky, so it always gets the maximum amount of light. As a result, the solar cell chips receive 2,000 times as much light energy as they normally would. Even though they're small, each cell pumps out up to 250 Watts, and there are hundreds of them.