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80% Efficient Solar Panel?! Works at Night?!

The most expensive, carefully designed, and complicated solar panels in the world operate at about 40% efficiency. That means that, for every bit of sunlight that hits the panel, only 40% of it is turned into electricity.

Scientists think that this is just about as good as silicon panels can do and are now looking at ways to make it cheaper, instead of making them more efficient. But suddenly, from nowhere, comes Steven Novack of the Idaho National Laboratories with an inexpensive, foldable solar panel that may turn out to be up to 80% efficient.

The trick is nanotechnology. The surface of the material is printed with miniscule nano-antennae that capture infra-red radiation, the kind that the sun puts out in abundance, and is even available at night. Television antennas absorbe large wavelength energy, so in order to absorb ultra-small wavelength energy (photons) they had to create ultra-small antennas.

The material is fairly simple to create, and scientists are confidient that it would scale easily out of the laboratory. But there is a bit of a hitch: There's currently no way to capture the energy being created.

So while there are electrons pouring out of the nano-antennas when exposed to the sun, there is no way to capture those electrons. But don't worry, those geniuses in Idaho are working on that already. By putting a tiny capacitor, or AC/DC converter in the center of every tiny tiny antenna, they think they could make this new kind of solar panel export all that energy it's created without raising the price, or lowering the efficiency too much.

Source: Idaho National Labs via Groovy Green

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Comments (129)Add Comment
I'm Skeptical, Low-rated comment [Show]
Totally Correct.
written by Reinhold Ziegler, January 31, 2008
The work of Dr. Alvin Marks and his brother, inventors of microwave technology and polarized plastic in World War II have shown that is possible to make ultra small dipole antennas that can convert ultra short waves into electric current. This is what is described by this invention. Nanotechnology dipole antennas with a very small wavelength can be printed on a substrate so that they will collect this radiation and convert it into electrons.

Good Work!
written by Ken Roberts, January 31, 2008
Can't capture the energy? FAIL.

Efficiency of a device includes the efficiency at which the energy is captured and transformed into electrical current. Without this part of the process, you cannot compare such panels to traditional silicon panels. If capturing the viagra overnight energy turns out to be a lossy endeavor, you may end up with a system that is even less efficient than the 40% from traditional silicon.

Cool concept though.
H.R.H., Low-rated comment [Show]
written by William, January 31, 2008
This is really exciting news indeed. Cost and efficiency were the great barriers to solar energy. This new method will soon change the terms of the debate.
written by SamW, January 31, 2008
Two questions, how long before they get this working and how much will it cost?
Ever heard of eco-friendly nanotechnolog, Low-rated comment [Show]
in response to: "Ever heard of eco-frien
written by Frannyy, January 31, 2008
There is a lot of hype, bad press misconception and cialis for females certainly misinformation about nano-technology.

Scientists have been doing nanotechnology for decades, even centuries; it's called chemistry.

You'll be surprised to know that shampoos and even deodorants, the face-packs in cosmetics, paint etc all work on "nanotechnology".

On the point of their use in pursuit of environmental protection I can point to the example where colloids are used to reduce the rate of evaporation from water reservoirs. Even the standard solar panels are made using nanotechnology. The list is actually impossibly long. smilies/smiley.gif
written by Troy, January 31, 2008
I don't really care what it's called, solar ot IR collection, if this technology comes to market, it could do wonders for people all over the world, many of them the cheap fast cialis poorest of the poor. As long as safeguards are in place to handle the transmission of the resulting energy, I can't really see an inherent danger. The only potential problem I can see is if by collecting this IR energy we are causing an imbalance of some kind in nature. I always thought of IR energy like wind energy - if not used it goes to waste....and until proven otherwise, I am sticking with that philosophy.
A wrong approach, Low-rated comment [Show]
Antenne Fry
written by Djarada, January 31, 2008
What sort of temperature extremes can they put up with?
written by colecoman1982, January 31, 2008
I believe that what they are referring to is called an optical rectenna ( ). They've been used in the past to transmit microwave energy from point A to point B with high efficiency and provide the basis of most proposed plans for transmitting power to earth from orbiting solar energy collectors.

My understanding was that it wasn't the antenna that researchers were having a problems developing, but a diode that could respond fast enough for, high frequency, visible light waves. As far as I know, this is a non-story.
Unlikely 80% can be achieved
written by Tony, January 31, 2008
Different frequencies of light have different energies (varying by about of factor of two I would guess) Unless they are multi layer devices letting through different frequencies to different layer I think they will be hard pushed to reach 40%
Good luck to them though it's an interesting development.
Gliem, Low-rated comment [Show]
nano-what?, Low-rated comment [Show]
written by Steve, February 01, 2008
So, IR begins around 750nm wavelength, but if you look at the spectrum of light that hits the earth from the sun (called Air Mass 1.5, or AM1.5 -- google it for a plot of wavelength vs. intensity) you see it peaking around 550nm (green, the color we can see with the most contrast -- thanks evolution!). It's all about the area under the cialis 20 mg curve for efficiency, so if you can convert everything beyond 750nm (which I doubt this does) it's better than just getting only 550nm photons.

Despite this, energy is inversely proportional to wavelength so the larger the wavelength, the lower the energy of the photon. IR photons are much lower energy than visible light.

To be 80% efficient solar cells, it MUST capture, convert, and be able to produce power form more than just the IR spectrum of AM1.5. I have a feeling this device can report a 80% internal efficiency (it converts 80% of the light it is theoretically able to convert), but if it can't produce power, it has 0% efficiency.

As far as the concerns over nanotechnology, it is everywhere, and is really just a catch-all phrase for advancing technology these days. It's a phrase that is on par with "government systems" or "manufacturing". You can't really say "government systems" are inherently good or bad, you have to look at the specific one you're talking about.
Do you think that those little antenna c
written by dandermouse, February 01, 2008
Sorry, a UK Joke/Pun.

Shouldn't it be possible
written by Brad, February 01, 2008
If this is capturing IR shouldn't it be pretty easy to create a black body that would be heated by the sun and emit IR. Basically a energy converter from visible to IR? Some of the recent super black surfaces based on nano tubes seem like they would be ideal here.
Misunderstanding about infrared
written by doctorscn, February 01, 2008
infrared radiation is popularly known as "heat" or sometimes "heat radiation", since many people attribute all radiant heating to infrared light and/or to all infrared radiation to being a result of heating. This is a widespread misconception, since light and electromagnetic waves of any frequency will heat surfaces that absorb them. Infrared light from the Sun only accounts for 49%[8] of the heating of the Earth, the rest being caused by visible light that is absorbed then re-radiated at longer wavelengths. Visible light or ultraviolet-emitting lasers can char paper and incandescently hot objects emit visible radiation. It is true that objects at room temperature will emit radiation mostly concentrated in the 8 to 12 micrometer band, but this is not distinct from the emission of visible light by incandescent objects and ultraviolet by even hotter objects (see black body and Wien's displacement law).[9]
Heat is energy in transient form that flows due to temperature difference. Unlike heat transmitted by thermal conduction or thermal convection, radiation can propagate through a vacuum.
The concept of emissivity is important in understanding the canadian healthcare pharmacy infrared emissions of objects. This is a property of a surface which describes how its thermal emissions deviate from the ideal of a black body. To further explain, two objects at the same physical temperature will not 'appear' the same temperature in an infrared image if they have differing emissivities.
I am tired of this kind of news
written by Morgan Sam, February 01, 2008
I normally get excited when I read this kind of news but I have never seen anything reaching the market/common man . Do we know when it will be available?
written by Cale, February 01, 2008
Honestly I didn't know so many people who work in Nano technology and energy research had so much time to surf the internet and write about technologies they fully understand. I'll give these guys the benefit of the doubt about their technology I mean it's not like they are claiming to have a made a car that runs on water. Plus the benefits of this tech would be tremendous compared to traditional solar panels which are rigid and not very practical. Good for them and hope it works out.
at the expense of what other biochemical
written by citizenkay, February 01, 2008
I'm a neophyte at this, but I would like to know how the rays this nanotech solar coating would capture at night are currently used in our ecosystem. Here are examples "out of left field" --not necessarily with any scientific basis -- just to give you an idea what I am asking: Does the circulation of such rays in the atmosphere at night contribute to plant growth or photosynthesis? To the oxidation or certain minerals? To evaporation of moisture? To the release of melatonin fostering sleep in humans? In other words, what organic or nonorganic systems have developed their own "receptors" or methods of absorbing such rays, and to what effect will they be diverted?
NanoTechnology's lack of AI
written by Dustin, February 01, 2008
Since this article in no way references nano-bots, all of you complaining about nano-bots taking over the world are full of crap. Until we start making nanomachines instead of nano materials, there is no worry whatsoever. They are just different ways of organizing atoms, which we have been doing for centuries (nylon, neoprene, kevlar, etc). These are just the next step in that.
What's with all the generic cialis shipping pessimism?
written by CC, February 01, 2008
This is great news, even if it's not 0 market ready yet. This will definitely be figured out, so to all you people below being pessimistic about it, why don't you have a little faith and be excited about the fact that people out there are trying to make our world a better place. Quit hating!
written by Nick, February 01, 2008
That 80% efficiency comes in handy when you can harness 0% of the energy producedsmilies/smiley.gif
written by john, February 01, 2008
smilies/smiley.gif smilies/wink.gif smilies/cheesy.gif smilies/grin.gif smilies/angry.gif smilies/sad.gif smilies/shocked.gif smilies/cool.gif smilies/tongue.gif :- smilies/kiss.gif smilies/cry.gif
I didn't know
written by Chris, February 01, 2008
There were so many people out there that were so ignorant about the definition of nano-technology. Stop playing MGS2 and start reading some books.
written by Brian, February 01, 2008
I created a material that is 90% efficient. Its a piece of metal painted black. Gets super hot in the sun. Obsorbs most light of course I just need a way to convert it to electricity.
..., Low-rated comment [Show]
Misconceptions re: radiation
written by salsa, February 01, 2008
The key here is understanding black body radiation which has not been explained simply.

Just like a glowing hot body will heat you-- the sun during the day, for instance-- the blackness of space is so so so cold, IR energy from the earth radiates out to space, cooling the earth.

This temperature differential between a cooled object and the ambient temperature can be used to generate electricity.
Absorbing is not converting
written by Bob, February 01, 2008
Read the original article:
There is no claim of converting 80% of solar radiation to electrical energy. The claim is that they can absorb 80%. I can absorb 80% with a black wool coat, but I can't convert it to electrical power. Competing solar cells convert electricity in the range of 5% to 20% (commercial), and 40% in very controlled lab experiments. Every increment of efficiency (depending on cost, every fraction of a percent is worth a lot) is highly dependent on the technology of conversion. There is no cause to celebrate 80% until a way to convert the energy is developed. OK, they are further along than my fur coat, but without a strategy to make it happen.
give an idiot and inch..
written by epic, February 01, 2008
do most of the commenters have any reading comprehension skills whatsoever...the evils of nanotech...assumptions of facts not stated in the article...get a clue and buy cialis soft c o d learn to read...jeez
I disagree with Temporalmaniac
written by Travis Miller, February 01, 2008
IR has a wavelength from about 750 nm (nano-meters) all the way out to 1 mm or so. So to have cause an antennae to resonate you need to it be about at least 2 times the wavelength of the radiation you intend to capture so nano antennae would fit for IR. While the article is terribly written (IR is not shorter in wavelength than visible), it is still pretty short.

..., Low-rated comment [Show]
Just 'cause you're parnoid doesn't mean
written by indatube, February 02, 2008
more energetic photons (shorter wavelength) does not mean less electrical energy.

In PhotoVoltaic or Charge integrating light detectors, the amount of electrical energy is related to the amount of photons converted to charges = Quantum Efficiency.
written by Brilliant, February 02, 2008

OMG what is it with you retarded, undereducated, armchair physicists?
Let's See
written by NJ WebGuy, February 02, 2008
what happens with this story in a couple years.
80% efficiency
written by pubed, February 02, 2008
That's a big improvement. Hope it'll be on sale soon. Magnetic motor FTW for now.
written by ghh, February 02, 2008
the nose blocks the sunlight and the panel keeps working, its wonderful
one question
written by Jay, February 02, 2008
How many of these would I need to play halo3 all day and all night?
semi plausible
written by Moe, February 02, 2008
it would be necessary to transform non ir radiation into ir radiation. the easyest way is putting something very black in between two layers of this material. furthermore the material must be kept cool, while the black layer is quite hot (thermodynamics...). This process might offer a way to have a traditional heat-based powerplant with less moveable parts.

80% efficiency are realistic, if the problems with different frequencies and collecting the power could be solved
What about the artificial frequency spec
written by Thom Bouis, CSP, February 02, 2008
Great concept, reapply it to human generated communications that are literally saturating our atmosphere and "recycle" some of the excess energy being pumped into producing our radio, TV and cell-phone signals.
written by Gabe O'Leary, February 02, 2008
The atmosphere reflects more ultraviolet light than infrared, and infrared's wavelength is shorter than micro and radio waves. In addition, at night time there is lots of infrared light being reflected off the moon from the sun. Ever heard of night vision? That is the principle that night vision relies upon, not thermal radiation from the earth. In fact heat is a small portion of the infrared spectrum, and I'm sure it's not what these panels are capturing.
written by bennythewop, February 02, 2008
Night vision works on the principle that objects with a temperature over 0 Kelvin emit blackbody radiation over a certain spectral range. For the glowing coils on your electric range it happens to be in the optical range, and for room temperature objects it's in the infrared.

Material that absorbs at ANY wavelength could theoretically be used to generate electricity, so long as a material could be found that responds accordingly. What's innovative here is that the material absorbs light in the infrared and thus can access blackbody radiation at night.

Chill out, I'm sure they're working mighty hard to generate large scale currents. One step at a time.
correcing the Skeptical
written by Temporalmaniac, February 02, 2008
First off, I'm fairly certain that most of the Sun's rays hitting the earth come in visible light, as our atmosphere is rather adept at reflecting IR.
Not true, just because u cant see it, does not means it lesser then when u can see. In fact, Earth is heated by the IR ray that the Sun emits. If the atmosphere is good at reflecting IR light, Earth will be a cold place. Our atmosphere trap Heat energy well, not reflect them well. -.-
Second, IR is a long-wavelength form of radiation, not an ultra-short one as the article purports. It's longer than radio and microwave, sure, but it's longer than visible light.
OMG? IR is right after RED dude... When did IR turn longer then radio and microwave? This are stuff even Asian kids knew when there are 9? Plz go read the EM chart.
Third, how can it be a solar panel if it works at night? If it truly collects IR, then it's probably collecting it from the earth's thermal radiation or the atmospheric reflexions thereof.
There are still some SUNLIGHT reflected to earth at night. The Moon is a great example. But ok, i believe if it still work, it would most likely NOT to be solar energy. But, why cant it work at night? The only thing skeptical about this project is, how can it be 80% when u cant convert it to any other energy? To me, its the same as saying, my new invention convert solar energy at 100%. My secert? A Black paper! It converts visible light energy at 100%. Just that i have a problem now, it cant output to electricity or any other form of energy yet.
written by Temporalmaniac, February 02, 2008
omg i insult myself! smilies/sad.gif

Oops it spelt Correcting. try to get the facts right next time. Its bad and irratiting. Its like crying "Iraq have WMD" when they have none.
written by Steve, February 03, 2008
I always read the comments after articles like this. Why? Because it's fun to read the responses from intelligent people who don't realize that idiots and trolls are posting things like this
I don't know about everyone else, but Nano-technology should be taken a lot more seriously. I mean, what if the nanobots become self-aware, and start reproducing? Nobody ever considers the tragedies these inventions could cause... Don't come crying to me when you get infected, ass holes.

Good for a morning laugh, thanks people.
look who's talking
written by johan, February 05, 2008
solar = sun. night = no sun. Maybe you could call it a lunar panel, but it isn't a solar panel if it works without the sun.

But regardless, this hyped and buzz-word filled article is straight off their own press! Don't believe what a salesman tells you.

WHAT THE?, Low-rated comment [Show]
Interesting Technologeh
written by Morgan Freeman, February 06, 2008
When the technology is fine tuned and efficiently produced, I can see an abundance of new uses for it.
/me comes walking out in a new line of Victoriath Thecret Lingerie, spasticly convulsing and in a state of ectasy, due to the electricity flowing through his inner child. OH LORD IN HEAVEN, WE HAVE THE TECHNOLOGY TO FREE OURSELVES FRO*dead*
ret. aerospace engineer
written by NanooGeek, February 06, 2008
Wowee, what a diversity of opinion. For a science reference, check "Physics of Climate", Peixoto and Oort, 1992, AIP, chapter 6. Figure 6.1 shows the spectral distribution of solar radiation at the top of the atmosphere, and has an overlay of absorption due to CO2, H2O, O2 and O3.
Uhm... second law of thermodynamics?
written by Eon, February 07, 2008
Doesn't this kinda go against the second law of thermodynamics? Surely you can't tap energy out of an environment (the night case) that's just as warm as the object itself.

If this could truly produce usable energy from a room temperature environment then this would be man's greatest invention yet.
Great Invention!
written by Jerome, February 07, 2008
I think solar energy is great invention. However, we must start to find another energy resource than petroleumas soon or later it will be run out. Steven Novack has done very great...I hope this technology can be socialized soon and recommended site usa viagra most people can start to use this new energy resource.
written by Brian, February 10, 2008
From what I read from the original article posted by Bob, the IR radiation causes each of the individual antennas to vibrate. The vibration of the antenna creates a current. The problem with the panel is that it produces electricity that alternates at a frequency far to high to be used in any electronics. To resolve this they need to either lower the frequency of the solar panel someway or convert the energy into a direct current.

They are not converting the IR energy into heat like a black object would, they are converting it directly into energy electricity.

Anyone who is confused about how this technology works, the original article does a much better job explaining.
Better to check the original source
written by newbie, February 11, 2008

The original source article by the Idaho National Laboratoryexplains that the reason for the difficulty in using energy captured by the nano antennas is AC current switching at 10 terahertz. It need to be dropped to 60 hertz or to DC.

Any technology that involves printing on plastic has to be way cheaper than poly silicon
Electronic Engineer
written by Jaime Soto Figueroa, February 12, 2008
Here in Chile there is a secret competition to perforate ultra deep holes, and the record is about 9.5 Km. Russians have reached some 14 Km. The purpose is to explore new technologies to reach deep mineral reserves, but as a side product they have found that even at far distances from any volcano the temperature rises to very high levels, depending in the thickness of the earth crust. Here in Chile the law prohibits the perforation of volcanoes and thermal sources, but after this experience it is not necessary. The greatest energy reserve is right under our feet, at some 20 Km deepness.

Jaime Soto Figueroa
written by Birdman, February 13, 2008
Birdman says nanobots gonna take over the world
Nanobot Armies
written by Birdman, February 13, 2008
Here in Soviet Russia we have competition to find nanobots hiding underground so we can use them against the hated enemies of Mother Russia
written by Silent Pickle, March 07, 2008
Currently, the best solar cells i could find that can be made for monochromatic infrared light is Gallium Arsenide cells getting over 40% efficiency and damn expensive. This new kind of cell could mean great things for power transmission using lasers (Space Elevator!
written by solar energy, March 21, 2008
According to my knowledge, highest convert rate for silicon panel is 20%, for CIGS it is 12%, what's this solar panel made from? It can get 40% rate, even 80% later.
written by boxa888, April 07, 2008
written by Methusullah, April 07, 2008
It amazes me that you all dont understand, once God gives his thumbs up on solar , all anyone will have to do is pray and their home will be solar powerd, thats just so obvious I cant believe no one thought of it, regardless of the limitations we have today in energy conversion
Solar power
written by blank, April 28, 2008
The idea seems incredible! Well done for creating an ingenious design.
Just one question, though:
How much energy is used to makethis solar panel?
This goes to the guy at the top Re: I'm
written by cameron belt, May 24, 2008
who gives a rats ass where the energy comes from? as long as it produces a lot of energy for little cost why bother with the technicalities? seriously man think about the stuff before you say it.
maybe they could channal the energy to u
written by brian, May 29, 2008
maybe this guys onto something .i read the artical and it seems great apart from the fact they say they havnt been able to capture the energy being created by this technology perhapes instead of trying to capture it as per normal there could be other ways of putting it to use / if this can generate the sort of energy that is implyed then they could look at using that direct energy to power catalic converters for prodution of Hydrogen fuel Which at this stage from what i have read seems to be an area being held back. because of carbon emisions in normal electrical production
and other forms of creating hydrogen are using fosal fuels and therefor creating carbon emisions which is what the world goverments and enviromentalists are trying to reduce so I Hope this guy can work out a way to use this energy sourse / that way we maybe able to become fosil fuel free
The big grey gooo!!!!!!
written by yop, June 03, 2008
Imagine the nanites out of control smilies/grin.gif it can be the begining of the end....half century from now....I don't know but yet, who does?
in respose to every thing
written by james, June 06, 2008
GET A JOB smilies/smiley.gif
written by Jim, June 09, 2008
George Carlin solved this problem decades ago. Car Seats. Nothing gets hotter than Car Seats. I think he claimed 120% efficiency.
Not being sold today
written by jason, June 17, 2008
Until they hit the market and it's great! viagra online shop are available for purchase by you and me none of this really matters much.
You must serve as an example in implemen
written by jay draiman, June 22, 2008
You must serve as an example in implementing energy efficiency.

I think if corporate America is serious about energy conservation; it must start with people at the top and roll down from there to the rest of the executives and employees.

In order to accomplish such an important mission as energy conservation every executive and employee has to believe that what he is doing is the right thing.

They must practice the same attitude at home and rx online levitra implement energy conservation at home. This attitude will carry on to the workplace.

First thing that must be done is, each employee should be asked what has he/she done in their own lives to conserve energy, and than if the answer is positive advance the initiative from there, if not an education process must be implemented to drive the process home once this process has been achieved, it will be easier to get everyone to participate in energy conservation.

The motive and behavior has to come from within each individual person – it must become part of a routine practice – it must become a way of life – reducing waste in any form.

In today’s rising cost of energy – conservation must become a national theme.

Jay Draiman, Energy Analyst
Here's the original press release from I
written by solarup, June 27, 2008
For all those who are speculating with too little info, here's the original press release:
There is more detail provided, which some will find useful.

Interestingly, Idaho National Labs is under the Department of Energy. For the sceptics out there, it's unlikely that a government lab would be chasing some pie-in-the-sky idea. I hope they make the breakthroughs they're looking for!

If we can make computer chips half as small every 18 months for the last several decades (Moore's Law), surely we can crack the solar problem and, in time, develop highly efficient solar systems.

Surely we can also create batteries that are significantly more efficient and lowest price on non generic levitra powerful than today's batteries. Soon, we'll all be driving plug-in cars, powered by our ultra-efficient solar panels.
written by scott williams, July 04, 2008
I want to know where to purchase these ultra efficiant panels. I am a home builder and to make this type of tech. avilable to my costomers is very important. Green is the push !
written by Alex, July 15, 2008
I would like to know more about the solar cell.
I intend to change the power supply in my home, so I am interested in this matter.
Which type is more efficient (polychristaline, amorphous, etc.) and why. It can be affected by weather condition (by procent)? If yes, how can be avoided?
Should I install an "stand alone" or "on grid"?
Can anyone advise about the best supplier?

written by dquest, July 25, 2008
pls, my question is a bit diff. is this statement true? "100watt solar panel translates to 100watt of power fed into the batteries in every hr"

Whell just invented, all that left is to
written by Dx, July 28, 2008
pls, my question is a bit diff. is this statement true? "100watt solar panel translates to 100watt of power fed into the batteries in every hr"

Not true,for 100watt solar panel 100w is maximum power it can provide under ideal sunlight conditions.
under real life conditions it will make about 40-50% of rated power in average.

So these clowns made small antennas, and now the only very small problem is to make several trillions of "super mega ultra" high frequency diodes (one for every antenna) that can rectify at least few THz frequencies. just about few times more than fastest ones today.

even if this miracle will happen and someone invents a way to manufacture such diodes at moderate prices, efficiency will be not very good, because diodes have quite significant voltage drop.
written by Mankottil, August 06, 2008
I have been dreaming of such a technology to apply it on to every roof and exposed surface - buildings, cars, trains, roads and railway tracks and satiate man's hunger for power! Wish it became a reality soon enough to avert an impending environmental catastrophe!
FAO: some of the more loopy commenters
written by Homercles of Edinburgh, August 12, 2008
If you feel yourself vaguely worrying about whether absorbing infra red radiation might 'upset the balance of nature somehow' or you have a generalised opposition to 'nano technology' because you think tiny robots will eat you, you should really be over at
Tim and Eric
written by toyotaboy, August 12, 2008
Great job!
Great Technology
written by BigD, August 13, 2008
First let me state that I used to work for the Idaho National Lab (INL) and I know a lot of the technology that is being developed there. I worked on the nuclear side of things, but I still know a bit about this project. This is a real technology that will revolutionize the energy industry. This material is highly efficient and as soon as the delivery and cailis canadian farmacy storage issues get worked out (which won't be long), it will go into production, probably for the government first though. Although some might say that the production of these solar sheets isn’t entirely environmentally clean, the vast uses for this product are relatively endless and the energy savings would make up for that. Just think, this can be adhered to light posts and cell phone antennas. Almost like gold leaf, you can cover almost any object and make it a generator. As for cost, estimated costs will be roughly the same as cheap carpet. Not bad. This is all very exciting if you ask me.
written by Lars, August 21, 2008
We already have them. It's called flu. Big deal.
written by arian, August 24, 2008
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written by Deet, August 29, 2008
I read this same idea 10 or more years ago in the IEEE Spectrum magazine. It was just a small blurb but I believe it said scientist had etched antenna into a substrate as proof of concept, also predicting 80% efficiency.

Not taking anything away from these guys, I suspect many ideas have been mentioned in passing in some mag or other.
written by shirley, September 03, 2008
How much would it cost for an average family to install one of these?
Did you smell that?, Low-rated comment [Show]
in how much time the solarpanel charge t
written by sagar, October 15, 2008
give explanation about charging of batteries , & how much time the solar panel takes of 80 watt ,to charge the batteries .
written by Ray The Money Man, October 31, 2008
Poly Silicon will be obsolete before we even get started!

Great post!
The light time is the right time !
written by Rob, November 06, 2008
This comes to prove that the sun is fun and we want to share in harnessing the Sun Fun.
written by Har!, November 09, 2008
God, what a hoot! Made my day reading all the hilarious commentary.
Great potential!
written by Luke, December 07, 2008
I just love the potntial for this. First of all we could harness the IR at night. Even in a cold climate where there is little to no heat or IR outside, the typical attic it would be harnessing the heat from the home that would typically be lost to the colder outside climate.

The great thing about IR is that it travels easily through most solid objects, and so the panels would not necessarily have to face the light or heat source. Imagine a roof during the day with heat sunlight striking it. The IR hits the roof and converts to heat, conducting through the roof. When it hits the air space below, IR is then emitted into the space. About 93% of all the heat entering a home through the roof will be IR in that space. A single conductor on the roof would both collect the IR during the day from the sun and the heat from the home that would typically be wasted at night.

This revolutionizes insulation. Since even the best insulation envelope cannot hold 100% of the heat indefinantely (most just delay the heat loss), this allows any heat that does escape to be converted into usable energy, and this is energy that we would not have at all with solar pannels.
written by david, February 14, 2009
nanosolar claims that they have reached 1GW capacity, still we haven't see a real piece of panel under the sun yet. The nano-technology is too good to be true, durability is also an issue.
written by Rob, February 22, 2009
How would we get these??
In this website send me the link to get one of these and how much?
Man Was Made To Mourn
written by Nicholas Dykema, March 21, 2009
On the plus side this appears to be innovative research that may eventually help resolve some of the enormous environmental problems we face. But on the down side, in the here and now, is the appallingly depressing implication of 90% of these comments: Not just their arrogant, feckless stupidity, but the incredible mediocrity and visit our site branded viagra vacuity they represent. Can't read, can't reason, can't think, can't write, can't communicate. And these are people who actually have enough interest in science to read about it! Is it any wonder that practically every new scientific research paper is written by at least one Indian?
Cost/Size/Watts per meter/Time to run ou
written by watever, April 16, 2009
I would like to know the cost to produce one of these solar panels?
The size of one of these solar panels?
The watts per meter squared they produce?
The time they have before their efficiency goes down?

thank you
RE: Solar Panels
written by Van Covington, July 02, 2009
Although I didn't read all of these comments, (many would have been a waste of time anyway)I do appreciate those able to think for themselves rather reading books on why things shouldn't work. Trust me, there are very powerful factions that don't want any innovative developments to displace petroleum usage. More serious research should be devoted to the concepts of Nicola Tesla. Even the phenomenon of tapping ambient electrical energy from earth's static potential that powers 260 lightening strikes 24-7, all over the planet. These discharges keep the earth to atmosphere static charge in balance, why not use it?
No Nee - IR or UV!
written by Uncle B, August 13, 2009
Don't Worry now! The American Dream you are forced to live is solid for today! Jump in your SUV,in front of your McMansion and go for a "Big Mac" Yankee Doodle! The Chinese will use a humane insecticide when they come to collect their Trillion dollar debts in America, and you won't feel a thing!
Knuckle Heads
written by Travis, September 26, 2009
Ok all you knuckle heads, smart and dumb. First of all, even if the best this thing can do is only 40% efficiency, this can still be a good thing if they can sell it at a lower cost. Second, we are never going to solve anything unless we work together to find a solution.
not a geek
written by Greg, October 09, 2009
"But there is a bit of a hitch: There's currently no way to capture the energy being created."

sounds pretty dumb
does he not know that energy cannot be CREATED?
I just suppose that
written by John, October 24, 2009
If they keep promising lower cost more efficient panels wont that stop people from buying them now?

I kinda wonder if that's the plan?
Most Efficient Solar Panels available
written by Shawn, November 08, 2009
What about the efficiency of solar panels that are actually available on the market?

SRoeCo Solar has a chart of the most efficient solar panels actually available.
It would be a strange world.
written by R. Frist, November 22, 2009
If they succeed in getting this system to work think how strange things would be. Everything at temperatures over absolute zero emits some black body infrared radiation. In the winter just put some of these magic antennas outside in the snow and use the power to run an electric space heater in the house. It would usher in a new universe with new physical laws. You would be able to use the same energy over an over, heat to electricity and back to heat after turning a motor or lighting a lamp.

written by A.j. Peasley, December 13, 2009
" how can it be a solar panel if it works at night?"

Maybe it has a generator that stores the excess energy?

Read a little before you judge other peoples work please.
written by ADAM, December 22, 2009
You should all stop babbling like a bunch of idiots and maybe read up before making accusations that this technology wont work. There is plenty of IR waves comming from the sun- its the part of the suns spectrum that is not visible, but guess what- most of the suns electromagnetic rays are not visible- and yes it can work at night because while the sun is not out, there are still plenty of IR waves bombarding around on a warm night. Think before you judge other peoples work please.
written by taji, December 26, 2009
Why don't we surround a fuel flame with this material and get an 80% efficient vehicle engine? smilies/smiley.gif It is more practical than solar panels, will save 40% gas therefore reduce the carbon footprint, get rid of complex hunky-chunky gasoline engines.

Get a patent or life.
written by a, January 13, 2010
It is remarkable that these folks have come up with a way to CREATE energy! Our problems are over! Thermodynamics of our dimension be damned!
@ I'm Skeptical, FAIL, etc
written by skepticorcynic?, February 13, 2010

this is a good website that explains the infrared spectrum in abundance coming from the sun through our atmosphere. its not so adept at reflecting it, as the first commenter pointed out. i'm not sure about the technology per se, but i think we can assume that the scientists working on this did some research on the spectrum and that they've covered all of the obvious bases you've all pointed out
written by k, February 21, 2010
Just an idea... IR to Chemical Energy to Electrical Energy.
Multilayered Nanocrystalline material solar panels
written by Cray Gizmodo, February 23, 2010
while Boeing has created in their spectrolab an metamorphic multi layered solar panel with varied transparencies for each layer they have only done this up to 5 layers, I have a hypothesis or theory that with the different transparencies of the new nano crystal materials we will be able to stack many layers or more than 5 and with different transparency rates of the nano crystal layers to create a extremely more efficient panels. These rates of adsorption would increase through the different layers and perhaps at the deepest or final layer one would use a 'black body' or black nano tube material as a super absorber at the base layer (or not)? It only makes sense that if five layers are at a lab tested rate of 40% efficient then the more the better? Any thoughts? smilies/cool.gif
Changing the wavelength of light
written by tony, March 05, 2010
This may be a very stupid question but can you change the wavelength of the light that is unused by existing PV panels into light that can be used?smilies/tongue.gif
Overcoming Resistance
written by tony, March 06, 2010
I'm no scientist but I've just read a how it works article about solar panels. It seems to me and my very basic understanding that there are a number of issues resulting in lower energy production than potentially possible. In this forum you are looking at one. That is the amount of light used witin existing panels. However you could look at how to lower the resistant of the silicon or whether there is another material that acts in a similar way to silicon crystals which has a lower resistance to improve the flow of energy. Also as I understand it the is an excess ratio on electrons of 3:4. If you increased the ration to 1:2 or 1:4 on one side(I don't know whether this is possible)and the deficite on the other side to equal the above would that not increase the activity within the cell and therefore the charge? Like I say I'm no scientist but these are te questions my basic understanding are asking. Finally as per my previous entry, I understand that when light hits a surface its wave form and wavelength can change. Is it possible for a material to turn the wavelength of redlight for example not used into a wavelength/form that can be used - back into blue light?
30% of what?
written by JChere, March 10, 2010
Why is it that everything refers to phatovoltaic?
I heated hy house and made all my hot water with a blackend copper panel.It was very low tech, cheap and high efficency. It's called a solar water heater. The problem with it is it is cheap and efficent, no big bucks to be made. It's not high tech. Check and see how much of the power into your house is used to heat air and water.
gr8 job
written by Lord, March 26, 2010
Despite this, energy is inversely proportional to wavelength so the larger the wavelength, the lower the energy of the photon. IR photons are much lower energy than visible light.

This is a property of a surface which describes how its thermal emissions deviate from the ideal of a black body. To further explain, two objects at the same physical temperature will not 'appear' the same temperature in an infrared image if they have differing emissivities.
written by where is it, March 30, 2010
its 2010, where is the damn thing? this was published in 08.
Wow.. that's impressive..
written by Brett Adams, April 07, 2010
80% is pretty unheard of. Do you think they'll ever be able to make one that's completely 100% efficient? Maybe with some advanced technology? smilies/grin.gif

- Brett Adams (
The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics Strikes Again.
written by Ramsey Frist, April 13, 2010
If they succeed in getting this system to work think how strange things would be. Everything at temperatures over absolute zero emits some black body infrared radiation. In the winter just put some of these magic antennas outside in the snow and use the power to run an electric space heater in the house. It would usher in a new world with new physical laws. You would be able to use the same energy over an over, heat to electricity and back to heat after turning a motor or lighting a lamp.
Boeing Associate technical Fellow
written by Gatesby, April 14, 2010
We all would like to see cheap power but articles like this one just disappoint people.

To start, 40% efficient cells aren't silicon and aren't running at one sun. They are typically triple junction cells, Gallium Indium Phosphide over Gallium Indium Arsenide over Germanium, each layer generates a voltage and they are more or less current matched. They are also running at 100 to 1000 suns in a concentrator which increases their efficiency, if you can keep them cool. Spectrolab and EMCORE make these cells, possibly the best cells in the world. They are very expensive, ~$300/Watt at one sun.

Check out the rectenna solar cell by Marks and later by ITN in Colorado. These tiny devices are based on microwave rectennas, but shrunk down to light wave size. It should work except you really can't shrink stuff indefinitely without problems. An optical sized rectenna needs a rectifying diode that works super fast, ten times faster than the fastest commercially available diode, Conventional p/n diodes are hopelessly slow, only a metal/insulator/metal diode (a tunnel diode) has a chance and they are presently 5 to 10 times too slow. ITN demonstrated rectification of a 10 micron laser beam (frequency 10 to 20 times lower than visible light) but hasn't gone further that I know of. The rectenna diode must be incredibly small (a few hundred atoms on a side) or it's capacitance will make it too slow. Edge effects on such a small device, ignorable in a macro device, could simply dominate it's characteristics and it wouldn't work as a diode at all.

How do you get these antennas and diodes to assemble? Millions of very tiny pick and place machines machines, maybe DNA? You can't just wire them all in parallel. The high voltage antennas go in parallel only with other high voltage antennas, medium with medium, low with low, then wire the layers in series. These are gruesomely tough engineering problems.

The sun doesn't directly supply infrared at night, the Earth does, at about 200 Watts per square meter, about 1/7 the amount of the sun in space.

Lots of new solar device articles talk about collection efficiency, generating electrons per input photon. In the solar cell business this property is called quantum efficiency and typically is in units of amps per watt. Silicon solar cell from the 1970s and 1980s are terrific at this conversion, close to 100% at the sun's peak photon output. The problem is lack of voltage, only a half a volt per cell when the photons are packing 1 to 3 volts. Power is current times voltage. Reserve judgment on a device that generates a lot of current, what kind of voltage can it produce?

Infrared wavelengths longer than a triple junction solar cell's usable window, 1.85 microns, 0.67 eV, only account for 3% or so of the sun's output, say 3 watts per square foot on the ground on a good day, hardly worth going after.
written by Bob, April 14, 2010
Quantum efficiency might be near 100% but only for photons with energy greater than the bandgap which is way lower in the solar spectrum. Antenna's are not limited to the bandgap of silicon. If you could tap that 200 W/m^2, which is really a global average, some places it is 400 W/m^2 updwelling radiation at night as well as another 300-400 coming down from the sky, that is a lot of energy since it goes on 24 hours a day. Unfortunately, as Dr. Frist argues, if the antenna is immersed in and in equilibrium with this energy, you can't get at it with an antenna yet it does funtion to keep the earth warm so it is being used.

I'm so dissapointed.

However, on the bright side, it is easy to convert the suns energy to high quality, high temp IR at >90% efficiency, and if you can get an antenna to convert that IR at 90% efficiency you have an effective 80% conversion of the solar spectrum so about 800 W/m^2 during day hours. If you collect the heat during each day and release some of it on a 24 hour cycle you get reliable and predictable solar power at high efficiency.

So, if perfected, these antenna's could make solar power more potent as well as stable and reliable. I'd say that is worth doing.
written by Mr Potato, April 17, 2010
It doesn't take a college degree to learn how to 'absorb' the radiation from the sun. All you need to do is to paint some surface black and, congratulations, you've done a university research project. You may argue that this didn't turn the energy into electricity, neither did the guy from Idaho would be able to. So, either the editor is not explaining it right or what Idaho is doing can be described as modern alchemy.
watt about the watts
written by roy davies, April 30, 2010
In1872 capt John ericksson got 1 h.p.from 1sq yard of curved merror (750 watts).he made steam to run an engine that was only 7% eficient.lets try that one more time.
written by Rex, June 18, 2010
What the hell is going on here??? I have to say that this is totally worthless.
This is laughable. It does not matter what the convertion rate is, or the amount of energy it could produce, if you can't use it it is worthless.

Hey! I have a box 1/2" x 1/2 " x 1/2 " and it can produce 254 terawatts of power! But there is a bit of a hitch: There's currently no way to capture the energy being created.smilies/shocked.gif
Quantum Dots
written by Richard, August 29, 2010
smilies/grin.gif I would like to know how this compares to the use of Quantum Dots for solar collection. Quantum dots seem to be closer to becoming reality than this and still cutting the cost of solar panels by 1/3 and making them more efficient to boot since they are able to use more of the light spectrum. Sorry I don't have the efficiency rating, but I'm sure it is not 80%. Still anything will help.
buy now
written by daniel, December 01, 2010
I see this article was written in 2008.Here we are 2.5 years later and everyone seems to be waiting for a cheaper panel before going solar. If you have a $200.00 a month electric bill that equates to $6000.00 lost. If anyone thinks waiting for a cheaper more efficient panel will save them money they are dreaming. Do the math.What? you want it for free.
written by billthebruce, March 27, 2011
Wish I could harness all the energy used to make all these comments.
The price pr/w of solar panels are today so low that there is no excuse for not "go solar"
written by Niels - NCO, January 01, 2012
I also read the article, and I don't quite understand the technology, I'm a mechanical man.
But solar panel price are right now close to 1$/w, maybe it first will be 2012 before it's purly 1$/w.
But comercial wind power is 1€/w all included.
So if one private solar investor put up the solar panels him / her self they are equal to or lower than enterprice wind farms. It's fantastic, let's all go solar and let's us all make the dream of a renewable future come true....NCO - DK
Commercial Production
written by Eco Homes, February 13, 2012
When it can be used commercially?
written by deculling, March 10, 2012
People, this article was written back in 2008. It isn't going to never was. All my life I've read about countless wonderful things that were just around the corner; 99.99% never happen.

One of the problems is research grant money, in this case US Dept. of Energy money, encourages scientists, researchers, professors or who ever to say anything to get the cash.

Jimmy Carter promised us solar and wind would save's been what, 35 years now? Just forget it.

Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors are being produced in China and soon long as our idiots in government don't stop it. Now that's an answer!
written by Dgffdfff, August 27, 2012
When Is this going to be available all over the world and is it completely green and how much will it cost
written by Green Iowa Energy, May 06, 2013
I hate stumbling on technology posts this many years after it was posted. Gets my hopes up, then smashes them as soon as I see the date.

This article was posted 5 years ago, and the technology is nowhere to be found. sad day really...
written by Dante Stauffer, September 05, 2013
This is an amazing new update to the entire world of solar panels! I hope that we will soon be able to have these 80% efficient solar panels widely available soon!
Thanks for sharing this valuable information
written by satish, April 22, 2014
Wow that's pretty good i am just looking for 40 % efficiency solar panels i never found that there is 80% . If it is really happens i am the first happiest person from india

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