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TOPCAT Solar Cell Alignment & Energy Concentration Technology


This technology is a new technique for parabolic trough mirror alignment based on the use of an innovative Theoretical Overlay Photographic (TOP) approach. It is a variation of current methods used on parabolic dish systems and involves overlay of theoretical images of the Heat Collection Element (HCE) in the mirrors onto carefully surveyed photographic images and adjustment of mirror alignment until they match.


The TOP approach promises to be practical, straightforward, and inherently aligns the mirrors to the HCE. Alignment uncertainty with this technique is predicted to be less than the mirror slope error.

Additionally, a module-to-module alignment method is used to align multiple solar trough concentrators to provide superior optical performance. Any module-to-module misalignment can be corrected by adding the necessary relative module adjustment to the TOP alignment of the module mirrors.


  • Simple, easy to implement tools
  • Increased efficiency & power
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Renewable resource
  • Reduced cost
  • Sustainability advancement

Applications and Industries

  • Clean energy production
  • Electric utility
  • Alternative energy options

Intellectual Property

ID Number
Patent Number
Alignment method for parabolic trough solar concentrators 10161.1 7,667,833 02/23/2010
Alignment method for solar collector arrays 11223.2 8,294,886 10/23/2012
Technology IDSD#10161Development StageDevelopment - Sandia estimates this technology with a TRL 5. Key elements of this technology have been integrated with realistic supporting elements so technology can be tested in a simulated operational environment. AvailabilityAvailable - Various licensing and partnering options are available. Please contact the Intellectual Property Department to discuss.Published09/29/2011Last Updated02/04/2013