A lot of research is being carried out around the world using carbon nanotubes for various needs. Recently a group of researchers at MIT has been using hot carbon nanotubes to help improve the performance of solar panels. The more solar energy that solar panels can convert into usable electricity, the more useful they become as an alternative energy producer.
Solar panels have been around for a long time, but the amount of solar energy they can convert to electricity has been slow to improve. Currently the most efficient solar panels are able to achieve a conversion rate of 21.5%. MIT is developing a new type of solar panel that uses a thin layer of carbon nanotubes to boost efficiency.
The researchers believe that the carbon nanotubes might allow the solar panels to convert energy from certain wavelengths of light that standard solar panels can’t use. The researchers say that the carbon nanotubes have an increase in temperature after being heated by the sun. The researchers discovered that under certain circumstances sunlight can be focused and heat the carbon nanotubes layer to 1763 Fahrenheit.
Once heated the nanotubes heat a photonic crystal layer that generates light at certain temperatures. That light emitted can then be turned into electricity using photovoltaic systems. The researchers believe that using the carbon nanotubes heated to a certain temperature range will greatly improve the efficiency of panels to an ideal efficiency of over 80%; current panels have an efficiency of 33.7%.