Recently, researchers from Stanford University have achieved a combination of cooling and maintaining sunlight absorption with a wafer made of silica to better cool solar cells, according to BusinessWire.com.
BusinessWire.com explained, “The researchers etched tapered holes, about 6 micrometers across and 10 micrometers deep, in the wafer. The holes are designed to smooth the path the thermal radiation takes to escape.” The team then “tested the silica layer by placing it on top of a solar cell mimic — a polished silicon wafer with an antireflection surface and aluminum back that has similar absorption characteristics to standard solar cells, but wasn’t actually wired to produce electricity.”
According to BusinessWire, “the testing verified that because the silica layer is transparent, approximately the same amount of sunlight still reaches the solar cell mimic.” They even said they found a “slight increase in absorption because of anti-reflection and light trapping effects of the etched silica,” and the temperature was “lowered 13° C compared to the bare solar cell mimic.”
Linxiao Zhu, a graduate student in the research group of electrical engineering professor Shanhui Fan, said, “What’s unique about our work is that we demonstrate radiative cooling while preserving the amount of solar absorption.” Zhu also said that radiative cooling is a “mostly untapped resource” that “relies on the coldness of the universe.”
Other applications that could benefit from this cooling approach, “especially since the new research shows it can work without significantly altering the sunlight absorption characteristics of an underlying material,” could be “cooling cars, clothing, and outdoor equipment,” Zhu also said.
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