This paper explores the benefits of distributed power electronics in solar photovoltaic applications through the use of sub-module integrated maximum power point trackers (MPPT). We propose a system architecture that provides a substantial increase in captured energy during partial shading conditions, while at the same time enabling significant overall cost reductions. This is achieved through direct integration of miniature MPPT power converters into existing junction boxes. We describe the design and implementation of a high-efficiency (>98%) synchronous buck MPPT converter, along with digital control techniques that ensure both local and global maximum power extraction. Through detailed experimental measurements under real-world conditions, we verify the increase in energy capture and quantify the benefits of the architecture.