Right now, designing a solar power installation generally means
figuring out how to orient flat or angled panels so that they’ll capture
the most light. Or the panels are put onto expensive, swiveling mounts,
which move the panels over the day to track the sun. But a team of
researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has a different
theory about how to best design solar power systems—by using solar
panels to build three-dimensional structures.
One of the models
the team constructed is an open-ended cube. It’s made of nine solar
panels—four exterior walls, four interior walls, and the bottom inside.
Another, an open parallelepiped, took 17 panels to make. The
accordion-like towers, with their ridged faces, contain 32 panels.