Desert tortoises are not the the only things holding up the development of solar energy

Technology is always improving. Every year things become smaller and more powerful. Solar Panel technology is exactly the same as any other form of technology, and as time goes on, the technology has only got better.

As someone with a fascination for science, new technology and eco living, and also as a blogger for Ardenham Energy, a UK installer of sonar panels and green technology, there are two big advancements that have made me very excited lately. The first is research into the surface of solar panels and trying to replicate the structure of a leaf (I’ll explain this a bit more soon) and the second is Nano technology that means it might be possible to build solar panels into clear windows, making the big black slabs on rooftops obsolete.

I think I’ll start by talking about the leaf-like structure research first.

Engineers at Princeton University have been trying to mimic the fold and wrinkles of a leaf within a solar cell, and it seems they are succeeding. To top that off, it seems as if these leaf-like cells are much more effective than their traditional counterparts.

Nature Photonics published an article by the research team, in which they claimed their design could produce almost 50% more electricity than a standard photovoltaic cell. The increase in surface area allowed for a greater reception of light, as well as the ability to more successfully guide and retain light.

The engineers used a technique involving ultra-violet light to cure a layer of liquid photographic adhesive. By adjusting the speed of curing they were able to produce layers of varied sizes and depths. At first the team didn’t expect the experiment to work as well as it did. Jim Bok Kim, the author of the paper claimed its effects were “better than my expectations”.

Couple this will the news that energy entrepreneur Justin Hall-Tipping recently unveiled his discovery of Nano-technology which allows solar cells to be placed on windows in a way the window still remains clear.

Hall-Tipping’s invention works by using a clear film containing scientifically engineered electrons that harness solar energies that would normally be lost to the thermal process. This would not only power utilities around the home, but also help regulate temperature by storing excess heat when it’s warm and then releasing it when cold.

It might still be a while before this technology become completely viable – some scientists say 20 years – but it’s still looking good for solar power, especially on a home-to-home basis.