A big thank you for Andre for sending in this story. I know many of our readers are better wordsmiths than I, so feel free to send in your stories.
Effective Indoor Solar
Whilst the overwhelming majority of the Middle East apparently remains determined to focus on setting amazing new records in severing assorted body parts by any means – most of them with rather catastrophic and permanent consequences – a tiny minority is still applying ratio and science, with remarkable and rather more uplifting results. Just the other day I received information about “unifocals”: self-focusing glasses, an amazing optical liquid crystal technology, and today we have yet another innovation announced from tiny Israel.
A company by the name of 3G Solar has announced that they have created an advanced form of dye solar cell (DSC) technology that uses glass-printed photovoltaic cells to power common household electric items.
Shade, meet the Graetzel cells
The new solar devices are so vastly improved over the previous state-of-the-art within this field that it is claimed it can replace batteries in most indoor applications. As is well-known, conventional solar cells do not perform too well indoors. This technology is different: fundamentally different even.
Dye solar cells, also known as Graetzel cells, were originally developed more than 20 years ago by Michael Graetzel, a professor at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne university in Switzerland. These cells produce power from indirect indoor lighting without the need for semiconductors, similar to how chlorophyll turns sunlight into energy using photosynthesis.
Vastly improved technology
By improving the technology dramatically – a claimed 300% increase over anything else in existence, suddenly, for indoor applications, innovative things are possible. After all, most electronics are used indoors. Smart watches, calculators, building sensors, wearables, and so forth: they all operate primarily indoors. Now, these devices can be solar-powered, whilst remaining indoors. It’s a clever way to power all kinds of devices that couldn’t be done before, at least not without resorting to battery power or mains power.
In many ways this is quite interesting. Solar cells that are sensitized for relatively low-lux indirect indoor lighting, without the need for semiconductors, can be useful for all kinds of low-light applications. Perhaps the efficiencies of this type of cells was quite low already compared to silicon based technology. In that case a (claimed) 300% increase isn’t that spectacular: it’s still fairly low. But still, it’s good enough for powering indoor electronics, and that in itself is innovative.
Unfortunately, I have no other technology data sheets yet, either definitive or comparative. Solar cells are improving all the time, albeit with little steps as a time, but good efficiencies have already been achieved. That’s outdoor. But most certainly indoor solar wasn’t very effective or efficient so far other than on very small scale and ultra-low power applications such as calculators. The absence of any semiconductors is amazing as well. Clearly, this is an innovative technology, and focused on indoor use. Modern buildings will be brimming with all kinds of indoor sensors and gadgetry within a few years. Wearables will be common place, and other modern gadgets.
Hence I thought it is such an innovative and interesting development I didn’t want it to go unnoticed.