The Race for Solar
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|Steve Waller||September 28th 2012|
Despite attending Egyptâ€™s Bani-Suef University as a student of commerce, 24 year-old Mohamed Goodaâ€™s passion has always been for science. Having pursued his interest in physics in his spare time, heâ€™s come up with a theoretical method of improving upon the efficiency of the photovoltaic solar cells currently in use the world over. He believes that, if widely implemented, his theory for a new method of converting solar radiation into electricity, using lasers, could afford Egypt a high level of energy independence.
Given that Egypt receives over 3,000 hours of sunlight a year in some regions, itâ€™s not unreasonable to think that a revolutionary new form of solar cell could indeed lead to a radical change in the profile of Egyptâ€™s energy consumption. But just how are these new cells supposed to work?
Whereas a standard photovoltaic solar cellsâ€™ functionality depends on the photoelectric effect (also known as the Hertz effect), whereby chemical elements that have â€˜easy goingâ€™ electrons at their outer electron shell convert luminous energy into electricity, Mohamedâ€™s proposes a different model of generating energy from sunlight. He theorises that itâ€™s possible to generate solar power using a similar method to the stimulated emission of electrons that powers lasers.
He explains: â€œThe idea of my invention is based upon the concept of â€œStimulated Emission of Electronsâ€, a theoretical physics expression which first appeared in 1999 in a research that was conducted by three scientists and got published in the â€œBrazilian Journal of Physicsâ€. The expression is concerned with a kind of solid matters which are able to stimulate the secondary electrons in a range between zero and 50 volts.
â€œThis new solar cell uses the similar mechanism of how laser works through stimulated emission of electrons, yet, itâ€™s based upon electrons and not photons like in laser. This takes place through special organising of the properties of the Cesium solar cell,â€ he says.
According to Goodaâ€™s calculations, this will enable his cells to operate at 70 percent efficiency, a noteworthy claim that given that current cells are only able to convert 40 percent of their solar input into usable power.
Furthermore, he soon hopes to be able to increase the range of light waves that his â€˜laserâ€™ panels are able to utilise: â€œIâ€™ll start trying to advance my new laser solar cells to make them able to absorb and benefit from additional five types of spectrum, beside the already used visible light. This is actually a revolutionary idea which is still being experimented in some physics labs which aim to make use of 3 types of spectra beside the visible light of sunlight.â€
Unfortunately, despite having presented his invention to the National Academy of Scientific Research and Technology to date Gooda has not been able to find an Egyptian manufacturer willing to get production rolling, but hopes he can advance the idea to research teams working on solar energy products in north Africa in conjunction with the EU.
Steve Waller writes for Green Prophet, from where this article is adapted.