Infrared Photovoltaic Solar Cells

Infrared photovoltaic solar cells can be made from any existing material technology. It doesn’t matter if they are thin film solar cells, polycrystalline silicon cell or monocrystalline solar panel or a polymer. It doesn’t matter about the circuit wiring, the current being produced, whether the ratio of electrons being produced is high or low, because it is not the type of solar panel that makes it infrared it is the glass which is covering it.

To turn a photovoltaic solar cell into an infrared solar energy panel the glass has to be treated during the production phase. It is turned into low ironed tempered glass as opposed to normal ironed tempered glass.

By producing low ironed tempered glass, it means that the system can absorb high wavelength sunlight. The high wave length range is from 800 to 1200nm and this is the infrared range. A lower wave length from 400 to 800nm is the normal visible sunlight.

The reason why you would want a photovoltaic cell which picks up infrared light is because it makes the panel more effective, it increases energy conversion efficiencies.

For cells covered in non infrared glass, they will only produce energy when the sun is shining directly upon them, when sunlight is in the 400 to 800nm range. This means if the sun goes behind a cloud, they stop producing power. When the sun goes behind a cloud the only light that can be converted into energy is infrared sunlight.

So why aren’t all solar cells covered with infrared low ironed tempered glass, surely it is more eco friendly? Well there is only one reason and that is cost. As the glass needs additional materials and complex production methods being applied to it, this pushes up the cost considerably. This means when deciding whether to go for the extra expense or not you have to weigh up your payback period timeline.

If you live in a part of the world where you do not experience much cloud cover then it would not be worth the extra investment because when the sun is shining directly upon the panels the non-infrared glass is just as efficient as the treated glass. However if you live in the part of the country where you do get a lot of cloud cover then it is probably worth going for. It will mean even during the winter months you can generate electric solar power.

The other benefit of the low ironed coatings is that it cuts down the emission by about 80% which increases the efficiency of the solar cell. Emission is a technical term for the amount of energy which is released back into the atmosphere. Obviously you don’t want to have the effect of energy bouncing off your panel, you want your panel to absorb and convert as much energy as possible.

So at the end of the day, it comes down to what you can afford. In an ideal world you have all your solar power being produced with infrared photovoltaic solar cells.

Comments

4 Comments on Infrared Photovoltaic Solar Cells

  1. Steve Bell on Mon, 6th Sep 2010 11:19 am
  2. I have read the article on the infrared solar panels.

    My question is: Would some form of plastic serve the same purpose as the special and expensive glass required for the the infra red spectrum?

    As far as I am aware plastics do not filter out the IR spectrum in the same way that glass does.

    Is this correct and what would the problems of using plastics be?

    Many thanks

    Steve Bell

  3. Ikes on Wed, 6th Oct 2010 11:14 am
  4. And how about the availability ? Already in 2005 they were singing haleluja about the infrared nano antennas but i can’t seem to find a place where you can buy it ???
    It sounds SOOO good that I rather don’t invest in the current solar panels , but i can sit around and wait 10 more years like that.

    Carlo.

  5. Baccus on Fri, 21st Oct 2011 3:14 am
  6. I’m not an expert on photovoltaic modules, but I did have this explained to me by a research colleague who designs solar cells, and he claimed that it is very much the panel that determines whether a cell can produce a current from incident infrared radiation (as well as standard glass being opaque to infrared light of course).

    When designing a PV panel material you need to tune the band-gap of the electrons to match the type of light you expect the panel to be exposed to. The higher the band-gap the higher the voltage (and hence power) that will be produced by the material, but the light that impacts the panel must have enough energy to overcome this band-gap in order to promote valence electrons to the conducting band to produce any voltage at all. Visible light has more energy than infrared light, and hence is able to work at a higher band-gap, so if you tune your panel to work optimally in visible light then infrared light will not be able beat the band-gap energy and so will not produce any electrical energy. If you tune it to be able to harvest energy from infrared light then the power produced at all points in the spectrum will be decreased.

    As I understand it this is a simple mathematical question, where you can calculate the optimal band-gap energy based on the amount of energy available over the entire spectra of light at the earth’s surface, and indeed this has been done many times in the past, and has resulted in the current mono- and poly-crystalline panels that are so common today, which will work extremely well in visible light, and not at all in infrared light. So don’t delay buying panels because you expect infrared PV to take off anytime soon 😉 Infrared nanoantennas now, that’s a different story:

    http://www.sciencemag.org/content/332/6030/702.short

  7. Fred Holme on Fri, 13th Jan 2012 3:44 pm
  8. I have a Glass reienforced Panel——— GRPcomposite

    I wish to convert it into a Solar Energy Panel with a hugh elec yeild

    How do I do it

    Greatfull Fred

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