Three-Dimensional Photovoltaics

March Meeting 2010

3D solar cells derived from genetic algorithm optimization largely outperform flat panels of same base area


A11.00003: "Three-dimensional photovoltaics"

Presented Monday, March 15, 2010

Marco Bernardi
Jeffrey C. Grossman

Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Cambridge, Massachusetts

Bryan Mayer
University of California, Berkeley
Berkeley, California

Three-Dimensional Photovoltaics

The concept of three-dimensional (3D) photovoltaics is explored computationally using a genetic algorithm to optimize the energy production in a day for arbitrarily shaped 3D solar cells confined to a given area footprint and total volume.

Our simulations demonstrate that the performance of 3D photovoltaic structures scales linearly with height, leading to volumetric energy conversion, and provides power fairly evenly throughout the day. Furthermore, we show that optimal 3D shapes are not simple box-like shapes, and that design attributes such as reflectivity can be optimized in new ways using three-dimensionality.

Please find additional information about this work in the recent article "Solar panel productivity boosted by origami" by


B. Mayer, M. Bernardi, and J.C. Grossman, Appl. Phys. Lett. 96, 071902 (2010).

Usage Information

Reporters may freely use this image as long as they include the following credit: "Image courtesy of Jeffrey C. Grossman /MIT".

For further information, contact:
Jason Bardi
(301) 209-3091