1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

One Way mirror solar panel sphere.

  1. Jan 26, 2014 #1
    I saw a previous thread on this forum that asked about the practical usage of a one way sphere ball and after reading through it I've come to terms with an idea that uses such an object in a very efficient manor.

    If you take your one way mirror sphere and wire solar panels on the interior of the sphere and place it somewhere within a city with a decent light fixture, would it not certainly be the best of ways to collect solar energy?

    the way I see it is that such and object could collect solar power from any angle at anytime of given daylight. for the public it could be a display of modern art, for the surrounding buildings, possibly apartments, it could generate a backup supply of power for use in emergencies.

    even if the solar energy produced is halved nearly infinite times within a one way mirrorized sphere it would still get daylight hours all year round and continuously bring in power however minute it may be by allowing stationary solar panels to absorb energy from all directions would it not?

    I would like to hear your thoughts on this idea, point out better solutions, or better fixtures for this sort of object.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 26, 2014 #2


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    crowseph5. Welcome to Physics Forums!

    To assist everyone here to understand your proposal can you please post that previous thread from this Forum?
    Can you possibly show a diagram of your "one way mirror sphere" idea?
    Will you please explain what "even if the solar energy produced is halved nearly infinite times" means?

    Cheers, Bobbywhy
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2014
  4. Jan 26, 2014 #3
    Starting with the halves: Every time light is reflected it's direct power decreases by about half while the remaining light continues to flow.
    Example: The glare from your watch is not nearly as powerful as the direct light that causes the glare.

    The sphere: lets take hollow glass sphere (probably large), and use a one way mirror all the way around the inside of the sphere with solar panels mounted onto multiple sides of the interior of the sphere.

    one way mirror: A one-way mirror or, one-way glass, or two-way glass is a mirror that is partially reflective and partially transparent. When one side of the mirror is brightly lit and the other is dark, it allows viewing from the darkened side but not vice versa

    If the sphere is placed in an open space, such as a community park or town square, then the sphere is more than likely to pick up thousands of waves of solar energy every day.
    The Idea of this sphere is that it would take sunlight from nearly every direction and focus it into a sphere that will undoubtedly channel some of the energy into all of the solar panels within the sphere.

    the one way sphere wouldn't allow a permanent no powered light source as people would be able to see inside it, so light must be coming out of it.

    example in the attachments.

    additional use for the sphere would be like a giant light bulb that can take a single stage light to brighten up an entire area. Take a small light, then amplify it using the mirrors.

    Also using the solar glass technology we have today we can place virtually invisible solar panels within the sphere completely taking over the entire circumference of the hollowed out sphere for maximum use of the structure.

    Link to the old thread: https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=358227

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Jan 26, 2014
  5. Jan 26, 2014 #4


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    This is only because a one way mirror has low reflectivity. Good mirrors have 99% or greater reflectivity.

    I'm afraid you are mistaken. This design will not focus light onto solar panels. You're better off just putting a solar panel out in the open without the sphere.

    This is not possible. The maximum amount of light than can escape from the sphere is equal to the amount of light produced by the bulb. You cannot amplify light in this manner, that requires a setup similar to a laser.
  6. Jan 26, 2014 #5


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Thank you for posting the simplified diagram of your proposed energy-generating sphere. It is clear that you understand how a “one way mirror” functions: it divides the light by allowing some portion to pass through and reflects the remainder. You are also correct when you claim “the sphere that will undoubtedly channel some of the (sun’s) energy into all of the solar panels within the sphere”. The difficulty in generating electrical power, however, is the less sunlight energy that arrives at the solar cells, the less electrical power will be produced. From what I can understand, your project will not generate appreciable electrical power for at least two reasons.

    First, consider your diagram showing full sunlight arriving at the glass sphere. Say, for example, the glass reflects 50% and allows 50% to pass. Now, say 100 units of sunlight energy strike the sphere. Half of the incoming sunlight energy will pass through, and the other half will be reflected away. These 50 units of energy pass through to the first internal reflection point. The same process occurs again: half reflected, half transmitted, so 25 units would be sent to the second internal reflection point. Here, another half gets reflected, meaning 12.5 units are sent towards the photovoltaic solar cell. Therefore the amount of usable electric power that the cell could produce would be drastically diminished.

    Second, the light will not reflect from the internal surfaces of the sphere as your diagram shows. It would if the reflective surface was flat, or planar. In the case of a spherically shaped reflector the reflected light will be spread out in all directions. This means that very little sunlight energy would reach the solar cell. This would result in very little electrical power generated.

    I recommend that you study the existing science, and then let your creative mind discover innovative new ideas. You might start here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photovoltaic_system

    Once you have the basic science correct, only your imagination is the limit. I liked your suggestion that the spheres in public places would become works of “modern art”. This is one creative aspect of installing technological apparatus in public places that is also useful to humans.

    Cheers, Bobbywhy
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook