Solar concentrators that are cheaper and need fewer photovoltaic cells than their present counterparts are what await us. Jason Karp, an electrical engineering Ph.D. student at the University of California, San Diego has designed a new solar concentrator that is compatible with high-volume, low-cost manufacturing. Working under the guidance of an electrical engineering professor Joseph Ford, Karp and his colleagues spent most of his time in the Photonic Systems Integration Laboratory designing and building prototypes for the new solar concentrator.
We have already seen solar concentrators that use optics to focus the sun hundreds of times and can deliver twice the power of rigid solar panels, but now it’s time to see an improvement, which most likely Karp’s new design will offer. Unlike the already existing solar concentrator systems that use arrays of individual lenses to focus directly onto aligned and electrically connected independent photovoltaic cells, the new design collects sunlight with thousands of small lenses embossed on a common sheet. Compatible with roll-to-roll processing techniques incorporated in fabricating large televisions, Karp’s new solar concentrators aims at bringing down the cost.