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New solar collector from 12-year-old

  1. Sep 20, 2008 #1


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  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 20, 2008 #2


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    I had heard about this, but am puzzled about some statements in the article:

    " ... solar panels that can harness 500 times the light of a traditional solar cell"

    Traditional cells are 15-20% efficient, so in what sense are the new panels 500 times better?

    " ...ultraviolet light comes in at shorter wavelengths and with higher energy than both visible and infrared light. Ultraviolet light can provide more energy to a collector than other, longer-wavelength members of the electromagnetic spectrum."

    Not if there's a whole lot more visible and infrared energy available in the solar spectrum.

    Perhaps this is a case of the popular press misreporting the scientific explanation of what the true benefits are ... or I am missing something.
  4. Sep 20, 2008 #3
    Oh it definitely is poor journalism. My best guess is that this boy's solar cell theoretically captures 500 times more UV light than standard cells, which I suppose is plausible considering the bandgap of silicon corresponds to the energy of an infrared photon. Of course the amount of energy contained in the UV spectrum is very small considering the sun is nearly an ideal black body with an energy spectrum peak around 500nm wavelength.
  5. Sep 20, 2008 #4


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    You should check out the rest of these kids.
    At 17, I was still trying to figure out how to pick my nose.

    And the numbers on Yuan's solar panel were wrong. The press left out some important information:

    He had two separate projects.

    The 500 is a little hard to believe though. Perhaps it was a misprint.

    A ha! A video: http://www.katu.com/news/local/28432984.html?video=YHI&t=a [Broken]

    The numbers in the interview are again different: "9 times more light", "10% more energy"

    And another article:
    So it's just a design, and hasn't been built, so no one really knows the numbers.

    But anyways, I can't think of a better way to spend $25k than on this kid.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 3, 2017
  6. Sep 22, 2008 #5
    Pinch of salt I think.

    One problem seems to be different companies using different methods to define or calculate efficiency. Americans seem to claim higher efficiencies compared with European or Japanese ones for similar type of cells. Some take 1.4 kW/sq metre as the 'standard Sun' .. Others 1 kW/sq metre and if you consider only parts and different parts of the of the spectrum comparison of figures can be meaningless.

    Another difficulty seems to be that some higher efficiency panels are more directional. Although they might produce more output with the Sun square on to them the average output can be lower than other panels.
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