Hybrid Solar Panel Claims Noted Efficiency

Researchers at Boston College and MIT recently announced that they have created a new hybrid solar thermal panel that generates electricity as well as hot water. The new flat panel platform is said to have demonstrated seven to eight times higher efficiency than previous solar thermoelectric generators, a fact its creators think will open up solar-thermal electric power conversion to a broader base of residential and industrial uses.

A report that was issued by the researchers in the journal Nature Materials describes  the use of nanotechnology engineering methods  to “combine high-performance thermoelectric materials and spectrally-selective solar absorbers in a vacuum-sealed chamber to boost conversion efficiency.”  The MIT and Boston College teams say the development has the potential to help achieve more cost-effective conversion of solar energy into electricity.

Solar Thermal Animation

image via Boston College

Boston College Professor of Physics Zhifeng Ren, a co-author of the report, said that existing solar-thermal technologies do a good job of generating hot water but this new product adds electricity into the mix and “promises to give users a quicker payback on their investment.” Ren went on to estimate that the new technology could shorten the payback time of such systems by as much as 1/3.

The research was supported as part of the Solid State Solar-Thermal Energy Conversion Center, an Energy Frontier Research Center funded by the U.S. Department of Energy.


  • Reply May 2, 2011

    CB Ballard

    When can we start buying? Solar panels are available at Costco. Greening is slowing evolving thanks to people like Earth Techling for educating us on what’s new in the Green World and sharing with us how to be GreenR. Kudos to all. Say No to Oil….if only

  • Reply May 4, 2011

    Kieran Mullen

    Guy on youtube did it a long time ago. Not earth shattering nhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rGi0Mf3cl1E

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