A team of master's students at MIT are revolutionizing the way we use solar panels. The group created a new solar panel, which continues to generate power while in the shade. They invented an integrated circuit which helps to create super-performing panels for areas that don't get direct sunlight.
"Our technology focuses on solving the problem of shading on solar panels, where a small percentage of shading can cause significant losses," said Bessma Aljarbou, one of the team members.
In traditional solar panels, one bad cell in the series can negatively impact the performance of the entire panel. And, when one panel is performing badly, it impact the entire array of panels. What the MIT students created balances the power between cells that are in the sun and energized with those that are in the shade.
"When you're doing it at the cell-level, you're capturing more energy," Aljarbou said. The team adds that their prototype can double the recovered energy compared to existing solar panels.
They are currently working toward developing a commercial prototype, under a new company called United Unified Solar.
"It has the potential to open a whole bunch of new rooftops and make entire rooftops more efficient and ultimately drives down the cost of solar," Aljarbou says.