The new competitive battleground in solar cells is 3-D.
Rather than produce flat solar cells, a slew of relatively new - and until now relatively silent - companies will try to improve the efficiency and economics of solar by making solar panels and/or cells that are curved or that sport curved components.
The advantage of adding more shape to the cell comes in operating time. Planar solar cells can only capture sunlight for a few limited hours. The sun is too low in the sky during the morning and afternoon hours for a planar solar panel to work at optimal efficiencies. You can put these panels on a tracker that moves with the sun, but that adds cost.
Because of their shape, curved solar cells can better harvest early morning or late afternoon light. (Think of it for a second - at least part of the active surface will directly face the sun as long as it is in the sky.) Solyndra, which came out of stealth mode today, has a cylindrical solar cell activated with copper indium gallium selenide.
But Solyndra isn't alone.
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