UBC Faculty Research and Publications

A smart solar energy collecting device Westgate, Timothy M.; Boivin, Adrian; Holzman, Jonathan; Veerman, Blake W. D.; Bergen, Mark; Jin, Xian; Born, Brandon; Bernier, Mike


Flat silicon solar cells are the standard for solar technology implementations, due to the simplicity of its form and the low cost of its material. However, the bare material of such a technology is known to suffer from high reflectivity and low solar conversion efficiency. Engineered surfaces (e.g., textured) and bulk structures (e.g., quantum dots) are often used to diminish the reflection and enhance the efficiency, but such processes come at the expense of complexity and cost. The proposed work responds to these challenges by introducing a new architecture for traditional silicon solar technology. The architecture takes the form of a Smart Solar Sensing (S-Cubed) Array. It consists of a macroscopic close-packed array of corner-cube- (CC-) shaped solar cells. Each CC-cell has three silicon solar cells lining its interior corners. The three silicon solar cells establish multiple internal reflections for enhanced overall absorption. At the same time, the impedances of the three silicon solar cells in each CC-cell of the S-Cubed Array can be sensed and independently matched to a common load. This allows for maximized electric power transfer to the load over a broad range of illumination conditions. It is shown in this work that the collected energy density of the CC-cell array, over the course of a day, can be increased by 33.02% when compared to an array of conventional (flat) silicon solar cells. Such findings can lay the groundwork for future implementations of high-efficiency solar technology

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