US Navy Floats Underwater Solar-Cell Solution

A team of scientists from the US Naval Research Laboratory Electronics Science and Technology Division has developed a solar cell specifically designed for use underwater, which can efficiently absorb solar radiation up to a depth of nine meters (about 30 feet).

The breakthrough may prove important to the development of underwater autonomous systems — which provide situational awareness and long-term environment monitoring — a growing market.

As it now stands, the power options for these systems are cumbersome and expensive: cables connected to an onshore supply source, expensive batteries requiring frequent replacement to ensure a steady supply, or solar panels constructed on above-water platforms.

Photovoltaic cells have been previously tested for underwater use, but due to the lack of sunlight penetrating the water they only had limited success.

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