A European research team has developed a technology that uses the properties of diamonds to harness the sun’s energy for solar power.
Developed by the ProME3ThE2US2 project within the European Commission’s FP7 framework, ‘black diamond’ is an innovative concept that promises to change the future of solar technology, potentially exceeding 50 per cent efficiency in solar concentration systems.
Diamonds satisfy two of the three conditions necessary for solar radiation capture – being able to withstand extremely high temperatures, and having the ability to emit electrons efficiently – but, because of their transparency, they are unable to adequately interact with sunlight. The team’s creation of the ‘black diamond’ fulfils this third condition and can harness solar radiation at temperatures up to 1000 °C, according to the researchers.
Furthermore, industrial low-cost ‘black diamond’ is exploitable for other electronic applications outside of solar technology, and the ProME3ThE2US2 team are inviting other industries to discover the benefits of this exciting new material.
The ProME3ThE2US2 project coordinator, Dr Daniele M. Trucchi, acknowledges that sustainability is essential for new technologies to be viable, and defines the scope within economic as well as environmental parameters: “Solar radiation is the largest energy source we have on Earth. Its more efficient and diffused exploitation means a higher energy availability with a minimal contribution to CO2 formation,” Trucchi explains to International Innovation. “Nevertheless, high efficiency is not enough – materials composing the converters cannot be toxic to humans and have to be simply and economically recoverable at the end of their lifetime.”