Spectrolab, Inc. has announced that they have developed a way to nearly
double the efficiency of solar cells. They’ve done it by
creating semiconductor Dagwood sandwiches, with over 20 layers.
The basic idea is to have different layers that respond to
different wavelengths of light. This way, a greater amount of
the total light energy is captured.
The technology requires the use of a lens, or some other means of
concentrating the light. That may limit its applicability
somewhat. Still it appearto be a major advance. It
could be the one thing we needed to make solar power competitive with
existing, lower-cost sources of energy.
It occurs to me that the rapid pace of development in this area could
actually pose a problem. Who is gong to want to invest in a
massive project now, when there is a chance that next year’s technology
will render it obsolete?
I don’t really thing that will be a problem. It certainly has
not slowed the development of computing technology. Plus,
there is such a high demand for energy, that even a plant that is less
than optimum, will still be producing something for which there is a
The story is at Scientific American here.
Even if the pace of development does cause some hesitancy in the minds
of investors, it would be a good problem to have, as problems