This incredibly beautiful object is a dual-axis array of non-imaging solar concentrators—or, in other words, a solar panel. Things have certainly changed, haven't they?
It was developed for photovoltaic conversion by Sun Trac Corp. for the Argonne National Laboratory in the seventies. That was when studying solar power—and searching for the most efficient ways to turn sunlight into electricity—suddenly became fashionable in the scientific world.
The unique shape of Argonne's solar concentrators gathered sunlight scattered by haze, smog and air pollution, as well as direct sunlight. The concentrating reflectors could be used in solar heating and cooling systems or with photovoltaic cells to directly convert solar energy into electricity.
And it looks ultimately cool—kind of like Eero Aarnio's Ball Chair. I want to live with this precious thing in my future Jetsons-style home.
Images by Department of Energy