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(Science World Report)   Solar panels perform better when autotuned   (scienceworldreport.com) divider line 43
    More: Interesting, School of Engineering, Queen Mary, Advanced Materials, materials science, solar cells  
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2177 clicks; posted to Geek » on 08 Nov 2013 at 11:03 AM (41 weeks ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



43 Comments   (+0 »)
   
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2013-11-08 10:31:37 AM
Define "better"

Is it like a whole extra day's worth of power output has been added thanks to the efficiency? Or is it measurable in the millionths of a percentage point more electricity?
 
2013-11-08 11:02:43 AM

doglover: Define "better"

Is it like a whole extra day's worth of power output has been added thanks to the efficiency? Or is it measurable in the millionths of a percentage point more electricity?


FTA:  "increased the solar cells power output by up to forty percent", not exactly insignificant.

Not sure why this would happen. The article mentions the piezoelectric effect. I assume that acoustic energy could product a mechanical stress in a solar cell, especially if it is mounted to a substrate that resonates with the frequency of the music. But hard to believe that it creates enough mechanical stresses to produce a 40% kicker, especially since they are talking about 70dB types of sound.
 
2013-11-08 11:07:28 AM

doglover: Define "better"

Is it like a whole extra day's worth of power output has been added thanks to the efficiency? Or is it measurable in the millionths of a percentage point more electricity?


How come you're all skeptical now? If this had been 3D printed solar panels in space, I'd have felt the heat of your ejaculation from around the globe.
 
2013-11-08 11:08:57 AM
Great. Now they're laying off hard working solar panels in favor of automation. When will it end?
 
2013-11-08 11:10:10 AM

mr_a: Not sure why this would happen.


The noise is shaking the electrons loose.
 
2013-11-08 11:12:25 AM
If it is possible to somehow recapture(that's probably not the right word) the energy of sound waves and convert it back to electrical current, wouldn't there be a more efficient method than a possible increase in output from a solar panel?
 
2013-11-08 11:14:09 AM
Can we get them for a 50% discount?

/slrpnl
 
2013-11-08 11:14:18 AM
Doesn't it take electricity to power the speakers that produced the sound that went into the solar panels?  There's no way that the additional solar power gain offsets that...
 
2013-11-08 11:18:54 AM

To The Escape Zeppelin!: mr_a: Not sure why this would happen.

The noise is shaking the electrons loose.


How exactly does a wave with a ~15mm wavelength knock an electron loose?
 
2013-11-08 11:23:26 AM
Just wait.
Someone is going to start selling an auto-tuner for your car engine.
 
2013-11-08 11:26:10 AM
So how much solar energy will be used to create the sound vibrations?
 
2013-11-08 11:30:01 AM
This is a joke website right?
 
2013-11-08 11:32:08 AM

mr_a: To The Escape Zeppelin!: mr_a: Not sure why this would happen.

The noise is shaking the electrons loose.

How exactly does a wave with a ~15mm wavelength knock an electron loose?


With heavy bass. You've seen how powerful it can be. Dubstep would probably increase efficiency to over 9,000.
 
2013-11-08 11:33:40 AM
It mentions higher pitch sounds from pop and rock music. So could we get Geddy Lee to just sing to solar panels all day? Rush single handedly solve the energy crisis!!!
 
2013-11-08 11:45:00 AM
Holy crap they werent lying about Wyld Stallyns music!
 
2013-11-08 11:52:24 AM
Too bad its only 40% of the output, not 40% overall.
The things are only like 20% efficient now.
 
2013-11-08 11:59:06 AM
This is like when they got 30% more efficiency from "tuned" rocket engines.

Harmonics can work for you, or against you.
 
2013-11-08 12:01:54 PM

Heraclitus: This is like when they got 30% more efficiency from "tuned" rocket engines.

Harmonics can work for you, or against you.


Why did you put "tuned" in quotes? It wasn't actually tuned?

You want tuned? 2 stroke engines have a weird exhaust shape for a reason.
 
2013-11-08 12:02:02 PM

Best Princess Celestia: Too bad its only 40% of the output, not 40% overall.
The things are only like 20% efficient now.


Being *only* 20% efficient doesn't really matter, when the supplying energy source is unlimited and free.
 
2013-11-08 12:14:21 PM
My first question is, what's the effect on the panels' useful lifespan? Followed by how much net benefit given that the vibrations will cost power, and how practical is this in a real-world condition?

Still, cool stuff.
 
2013-11-08 12:56:12 PM

MrSteve007: Being *only* 20% efficient doesn't really matter, when the supplying energy source is unlimited and free.


The panels and infrastructure aren't, though. While your setups are very entertaining, how could they work for people who make less money or live in the city?
 
2013-11-08 01:10:15 PM
Kpop stars unavailable for comment.
 
2013-11-08 01:10:34 PM

doglover: Define "better"

Is it like a whole extra day's worth of power output has been added thanks to the efficiency? Or is it measurable in the millionths of a percentage point more electricity?


Fark has this amazing new thing where you can click the link on the left and get more information than just the headline. You should check it out.
 
2013-11-08 01:12:15 PM

astroman05: Doesn't it take electricity to power the speakers that produced the sound that went into the solar panels?  There's no way that the additional solar power gain offsets that...


It would depend on how many you have now wouldn't it. Also if you a producing the noise anyway then you shouldn't be counting the cost. For example if you had the choice to build solar panels close to some place that played music all the time.
 
2013-11-08 01:17:58 PM

Best Princess Celestia: Too bad its only 40% of the output, not 40% overall.
The things are only like 20% efficient now.


Actually it's up to the 40% now.

And that's better than the 0% efficiency by not doing anything with it, isn't it? Also this "efficiency" focus is a little bit misleading because we are not converting from an energy source that we need to produce like oil, coal, or anything else. We a provided it for free.

It's not like we are "losing" it from another source because sun light is being made anyway if we use it or not so our choice is 0% efficiency or upwards to 40%.
 
2013-11-08 01:19:02 PM
What happens to solar panels after you drop the base?

/WUUUUUB WUUUUUB WUB WUB WUUUUUUB WUUUUUUB
 
2013-11-08 01:24:42 PM
Not a single KSP picture in a thread about solar panels?

/shakes head
 
2013-11-08 01:31:36 PM
I'd like to read the original study.  I have serious doubts about "40 percent increase".
 
2013-11-08 01:40:46 PM

Hollie Maea: I'd like to read the original study.  I have serious doubts about "40 percent increase".


You know they are saying a 40% increase not an increase in 40 points right?

So if it is a 30% efficiency it is going up to 42% (which is a huge increase in itself) but not 70%.
 
2013-11-08 01:48:44 PM

Quantum Apostrophe: While your setups are very entertaining, how could they work for people who make less money


Are these people currently getting their electricity for free?  If not, then if you live in an area in which the local politicians are not philosophically opposed to solar, you can generally get a special PV loan that covers the upfront cost and has monthly payments that are less than your electricity savings.
 
2013-11-08 01:52:53 PM

Corvus: Hollie Maea: I'd like to read the original study.  I have serious doubts about "40 percent increase".

You know they are saying a 40% increase not an increase in 40 points right?

So if it is a 30% efficiency it is going up to 42% (which is a huge increase in itself) but not 70%.


Yes, I know that is what they mean.  But considering the mechanism of solar cells, I still don't believe it. It's a lot harder than you might expect to get efficiency gains.  The factory I work at recently spent several tens of millions of dollars and 2 years of development and retooling to increase efficiency by 1.5% absolute (less than 10% relative).
 
2013-11-08 02:01:25 PM

stev6801: It mentions higher pitch sounds from pop and rock music. So could we get Geddy Lee to just sing to solar panels all day? Rush single handedly solve the energy crisis!!!


Came here for Geddy reference; leaving satisfied.
 
2013-11-08 02:01:26 PM

Hollie Maea: Corvus: Hollie Maea: I'd like to read the original study.  I have serious doubts about "40 percent increase".

You know they are saying a 40% increase not an increase in 40 points right?

So if it is a 30% efficiency it is going up to 42% (which is a huge increase in itself) but not 70%.

Yes, I know that is what they mean.  But considering the mechanism of solar cells, I still don't believe it. It's a lot harder than you might expect to get efficiency gains.  The factory I work at recently spent several tens of millions of dollars and 2 years of development and retooling to increase efficiency by 1.5% absolute (less than 10% relative).


Sure. I understand that. Yes it does seem a big amount.
 
2013-11-08 02:10:16 PM

Corvus: Hollie Maea: Corvus: Hollie Maea: I'd like to read the original study.  I have serious doubts about "40 percent increase".

You know they are saying a 40% increase not an increase in 40 points right?

So if it is a 30% efficiency it is going up to 42% (which is a huge increase in itself) but not 70%.

Yes, I know that is what they mean.  But considering the mechanism of solar cells, I still don't believe it. It's a lot harder than you might expect to get efficiency gains.  The factory I work at recently spent several tens of millions of dollars and 2 years of development and retooling to increase efficiency by 1.5% absolute (less than 10% relative).

Sure. I understand that. Yes it does seem a big amount.


Elaborating a bit,  if you don't fundamentally change the device structure such as changing the junction(s) (which playing music of course does not do) there is a pretty short list of ways to improve efficiency:

1. Increase bulk absorption (reduce surface reflection and front and back side metal absorption)

2. Increase shunt resistance.

3. Decrease series resistance.

4. Decrease carrier recombination.

Items 2 and 3 are off the table--sound waves are not going to affect them in any way.  For the most part 1 is off the table.  MAYBE there could be some increased long wavelength absorption but again I would like to see the original paper, and it wouldn't be much anyway.

Item 4 is really your only knob, and for sure it is where most research is done.  But there are definitely diminishing returns--with today's panels, the effective carrier lifetime is in the range such that your average diffusion length is longer than the width of the cell.  So decreasing the recombination only helps a little.  There's nowhere near a 40% potential.
 
2013-11-08 03:04:22 PM

Quantum Apostrophe: The panels and infrastructure aren't, though. While your setups are very entertaining, how could they work for people who make less money or live in the city?


Live in cities like Seattle, that have public owned utilities and create community owned solar projects. Which have starting costs of $150 per unit and approximately take 4-6 years to have a full ROI.

http://www.seattle.gov/light/solar/community.asp
 
2013-11-08 04:32:47 PM

Hollie Maea: Corvus: Hollie Maea: Corvus: Hollie Maea: I'd like to read the original study.  I have serious doubts about "40 percent increase".

You know they are saying a 40% increase not an increase in 40 points right?

So if it is a 30% efficiency it is going up to 42% (which is a huge increase in itself) but not 70%.

Yes, I know that is what they mean.  But considering the mechanism of solar cells, I still don't believe it. It's a lot harder than you might expect to get efficiency gains.  The factory I work at recently spent several tens of millions of dollars and 2 years of development and retooling to increase efficiency by 1.5% absolute (less than 10% relative).

Sure. I understand that. Yes it does seem a big amount.

Elaborating a bit,  if you don't fundamentally change the device structure such as changing the junction(s) (which playing music of course does not do) there is a pretty short list of ways to improve efficiency:

1. Increase bulk absorption (reduce surface reflection and front and back side metal absorption)

2. Increase shunt resistance.

3. Decrease series resistance.

4. Decrease carrier recombination.

Items 2 and 3 are off the table--sound waves are not going to affect them in any way.  For the most part 1 is off the table.  MAYBE there could be some increased long wavelength absorption but again I would like to see the original paper, and it wouldn't be much anyway.

Item 4 is really your only knob, and for sure it is where most research is done.  But there are definitely diminishing returns--with today's panels, the effective carrier lifetime is in the range such that your average diffusion length is longer than the width of the cell.  So decreasing the recombination only helps a little.  There's nowhere near a 40% potential.


I figured the elephant in the room was that they turned a solar panel into a piezoelectric generator too. They'd need the high frequencies to make the crystals slam into eachother instead of riding the same wave. It would also mean this is another water powered car or generator attached to an electric motor.
 
2013-11-08 07:29:33 PM

Albinoman: I figured the elephant in the room was that they turned a solar panel into a piezoelectric generator too. They'd need the high frequencies to make the crystals slam into eachother instead of riding the same wave. It would also mean this is another water powered car or generator attached to an electric motor


If they did that, they would have produced the most efficient piezoelectric generator of all time by many many many orders of magnitude.

/They didn't.
 
2013-11-08 07:33:16 PM

Hollie Maea: Corvus: Hollie Maea: Corvus: Hollie Maea: I'd like to read the original study.  I have serious doubts about "40 percent increase".

You know they are saying a 40% increase not an increase in 40 points right?

So if it is a 30% efficiency it is going up to 42% (which is a huge increase in itself) but not 70%.

Yes, I know that is what they mean.  But considering the mechanism of solar cells, I still don't believe it. It's a lot harder than you might expect to get efficiency gains.  The factory I work at recently spent several tens of millions of dollars and 2 years of development and retooling to increase efficiency by 1.5% absolute (less than 10% relative).

Sure. I understand that. Yes it does seem a big amount.

Elaborating a bit,  if you don't fundamentally change the device structure such as changing the junction(s) (which playing music of course does not do) there is a pretty short list of ways to improve efficiency:

1. Increase bulk absorption (reduce surface reflection and front and back side metal absorption)

2. Increase shunt resistance.

3. Decrease series resistance.

4. Decrease carrier recombination.

Items 2 and 3 are off the table--sound waves are not going to affect them in any way.  For the most part 1 is off the table.  MAYBE there could be some increased long wavelength absorption but again I would like to see the original paper, and it wouldn't be much anyway.

Item 4 is really your only knob, and for sure it is where most research is done.  But there are definitely diminishing returns--with today's panels, the effective carrier lifetime is in the range such that your average diffusion length is longer than the width of the cell.  So decreasing the recombination only helps a little.  There's nowhere near a 40% potential.


Cool. thanks for your expert input. More of that is needed on FARK.
 
2013-11-08 07:41:43 PM

Albinoman: Hollie Maea: Corvus: Hollie Maea: Corvus: Hollie Maea: I'd like to read the original study.  I have serious doubts about "40 percent increase".

You know they are saying a 40% increase not an increase in 40 points right?

So if it is a 30% efficiency it is going up to 42% (which is a huge increase in itself) but not 70%.

Yes, I know that is what they mean.  But considering the mechanism of solar cells, I still don't believe it. It's a lot harder than you might expect to get efficiency gains.  The factory I work at recently spent several tens of millions of dollars and 2 years of development and retooling to increase efficiency by 1.5% absolute (less than 10% relative).

Sure. I understand that. Yes it does seem a big amount.

Elaborating a bit,  if you don't fundamentally change the device structure such as changing the junction(s) (which playing music of course does not do) there is a pretty short list of ways to improve efficiency:

1. Increase bulk absorption (reduce surface reflection and front and back side metal absorption)

2. Increase shunt resistance.

3. Decrease series resistance.

4. Decrease carrier recombination.

Items 2 and 3 are off the table--sound waves are not going to affect them in any way.  For the most part 1 is off the table.  MAYBE there could be some increased long wavelength absorption but again I would like to see the original paper, and it wouldn't be much anyway.

Item 4 is really your only knob, and for sure it is where most research is done.  But there are definitely diminishing returns--with today's panels, the effective carrier lifetime is in the range such that your average diffusion length is longer than the width of the cell.  So decreasing the recombination only helps a little.  There's nowhere near a 40% potential.

I figured the elephant in the room was that they turned a solar panel into a piezoelectric generator too. They'd need the high frequencies to make the crystals slam into eachother instead of riding the same wave. ...


From another article on this:
Scientists had previously shown that applying pressure or strain to some materials could create a voltage in the material, known as the piezoelectric effect.  In the study, the scientists showed that manufacturing a piezoelectric material, zinc oxide nanorods, into the solar cells increased their efficiency when sound waves were played.


This article has more info but the link to the study is broken

http://www3.imperial.ac.uk/newsandeventspggrp/imperialcollege/newssum m ary/news_6-11-2013-11-35-3
 
2013-11-08 07:42:53 PM

Hollie Maea: Quantum Apostrophe: While your setups are very entertaining, how could they work for people who make less money

Are these people currently getting their electricity for free?  If not, then if you live in an area in which the local politicians are not philosophically opposed to solar, you can generally get a special PV loan that covers the upfront cost and has monthly payments that are less than your electricity savings.


Even if that were true, I'd be be curious to find out where I could put the panel area and the batteries and inverter in my 600 sq. ft. apartment with no yard? The roof which wasn't designed for it and would mean the two other people in the triplex can't use the roof?

Currently I use 45$ of electricity a month from Hydro Quebec. Water, biatch. Rain comes from the sky for free too you know.

Please describe the solar setup I could get for 45$ a month with no cash down that could also supply the lavish lifestyle I am accustomed to. Sometimes I bake muffins in my toaster oven. That's 1000W for 20 minutes.
 
2013-11-08 07:43:47 PM

Hollie Maea: Albinoman: I figured the elephant in the room was that they turned a solar panel into a piezoelectric generator too. They'd need the high frequencies to make the crystals slam into eachother instead of riding the same wave. It would also mean this is another water powered car or generator attached to an electric motor

If they did that, they would have produced the most efficient piezoelectric generator of all time by many many many orders of magnitude.

/They didn't.


It looks like the solar cells were made different too to take advantage of it.

Here is the link to the paper:
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/adma.201303304/abstract
 
2013-11-08 08:01:24 PM

Corvus: Hollie Maea: Albinoman: I figured the elephant in the room was that they turned a solar panel into a piezoelectric generator too. They'd need the high frequencies to make the crystals slam into eachother instead of riding the same wave. It would also mean this is another water powered car or generator attached to an electric motor

If they did that, they would have produced the most efficient piezoelectric generator of all time by many many many orders of magnitude.

/They didn't.

It looks like the solar cells were made different too to take advantage of it.

Here is the link to the paper:
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/adma.201303304/abstract


Ah yes...it's an exotic cell structure, so who knows what the original efficiency was.  I wish I could see more than the abstract.

The fact that they got a 45% increase by a threefold increase in carrier lifetime implies they started pretty low.
 
2013-11-09 12:58:39 AM

Quantum Apostrophe: Are these people currently getting their electricity for free?  If not, then if you live in an area in which the local politicians are not philosophically opposed to solar, you can generally get a special PV loan that covers the upfront cost and has monthly payments that are less than your electricity savings.


Actually, you need 'local politicians' who support solar quite well on average, ensuring plenty of subsidies to either reduce install cost or pay above market for the solar energy produced.

In areas where they're merely neutral, like where I live, you don't see it much.

Even if that were true, I'd be be curious to find out where I could put the panel area and the batteries and inverter in my 600 sq. ft. apartment with no yard? The roof which wasn't designed for it and would mean the two other people in the triplex can't use the roof?

I figure that there's a reason he put 'generally' in there.  A roof that doubles as a patio would indeed complicate things.  Depending on area it might be possible to hang the panels as a sort of sun screen though.  As for roof design panels aren't that heavy.  Plus if you're renting the structure doesn't belong to you; it'd be the owner doing it, and I'm sure a triplex apartment has some sort of utility closet.  Worst case you mount the invertor outside.

Oh, and what batteries?  Interconnect systems such that you're still hooked up to the grid are the most common solution.

Currently I use 45$ of electricity a month from Hydro Quebec. Water, biatch. Rain comes from the sky for free too you know.

The problem comes in that 'most' of the good hydroelectric potential has been tapped.

Please describe the solar setup I could get for 45$ a month with no cash down that could also supply the lavish lifestyle I am accustomed to. Sometimes I bake muffins in my toaster oven. That's 1000W for 20 minutes.

You could get approximately $6.8k worth of system for that.  As for baking muffins:
1.  I doubt you're really using 1kw continously for 20 minutes; baking is about the most efficient method of cooking.
2.  If you have a grid intertie, who cares?
 
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