The clever chaps at MIT have come up with a novel way of increasing the power output of photovoltaic panels: not by changing the technology, but the arrangement of the cells.
The traditional view of a solar panel is the roof top arrangement of several large sheets of cells, in a flat (albeit slanted due to the angle of the roof) block. According to new research by MIT this is quite inefficient. By rearranging the panels into a vertical concertina pattern, much more power is able to be absorbed because of the varied angles.
There were plenty of other designs drawn up, including cubes with concave faces, but due to this being a difficult structure to manufacture, the multiple sections of panels were chosen amongst a few others for a real world test. When the results came in, they were incredibly impressive.
The reason for the increased power output in this arrangement is thanks to it not catering purely to the mid-ay sun. Current panel designs maximise their efficiency during the period that the sun is directly above, but as the angle increases further it is able to take in far less light. This new design however, can capture sunlight far closer to the horizon, meaning it's drawing in energy for longer.
Wired points out that this design would still work fine far from the equator and thanks to its small dimensions, should work well in cities and other cramped environments.
Photo source: MIT