A new company, Prism Solar Technologies, have a new product in development that uses holographs to focus and redirect light onto the cells. Focusing light to improve cell efficiencies is not a new idea, but using built in holographs rather than lens or mirrors is. This means a much more compact and cleaner design with other side benefits. Prism has layers of glass, cells, holographs and more glass into what looks like a normal panel crossed with a pane of glass. The holographs redirect certain wavelengths light internally onto the strips of cells. Choosing only certain wavelengths to redirect also means cooler cells so you can get greater performance from them. So with more light, on cooler cells with out the traditional bulk of lens or mirrors, this looks like a great idea. So how does it work:
Prism Solar Holographic Panels
One of the big side benefits of this is it lets some of the light through, so you can generate electricity from some unconventional places. This could replace may traditional structures that create partial shade like, skylights, sun shades, pergolas, greenhouses, windows and other components. So not only do you get more energy from the same amount of solar cells but you can use them in more places.
So what exactly are these increases in efficiencies? It's reported that you will only need 85% of the number of cells to produce the same power. So for arguments sake, lets say you 100 Watt panel currently has 20 cells in it, a panel with this new technology will only need 17 cells to produce the 100 Watts meaning the cost per Watt should decrease as less cells are needed to produce the same amount. I would say sign me up but unfortunately these products are still in development and will not be on the shelves till mid-late 2007.
You can keep an eye on them here -> http://www.prismsolar.com/