Case 14118

Three-Dimensional Photovoltaic Apparatus and Method


Photovoltaic, Solar cells, 3D


    Design of 3D solar cells

  • Limited energy conversion efficiency of flat panel solar cells
  • Diurnal variation of the sun light incident direction


The 3D shape of solar cells with a given area footprint and their total volume can be optimized to achieve maximum energy production and provide power fairly evenly throughout the day. The optimization considers light reflection, incident angle, and position with respect to the Sun, panel arrangement, and other factors. In general, the generated energy scales linearly with height, thus leading to “volumetric” energy conversion. The 3D design increases the energy conversion efficiency significantly by reducing the total power reflected outside the system.

  • Generation of higher power in limited available area
  • Continual power supply throughout the day
  • Possibility of low-cost fabrication routes


Intellectual Property:

US Patent Application Number 13/021373, filed on February 4, 2011


MIT News: A New Dimension for Solar Energy

Last revised: April 30, 2013

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