As solar becomes ever more popular and more affordable, it is great to know that researchers are continuing to find ways to harness the power of the sun utilizing new technology. Researchers at McCormick have discovered a new material that absorbs a wider range of light wavelengths which may lead to more efficient solar panels.
The researchers utilized metal and silicon oxide, which on their own do not absorb light but when combined on the nanoscale trap a wide range of light. Thin, trapezoid shaped gratings were created which cause the light to be held longer within the material so more light is absorbed. Another positive feature is that light is collected from many angles. Thus, making the material more efficient throughout the day as the sun moves from east to west.
The drawback at this time is that the material only collects heat, but does not convert light into electricity. However, the technology and unique shape may be applied utilizing semiconducting materials to develop more efficient, lighter weight, and lower-cost solar electric cells.
For more information visit: http://www.mccormick.northwestern.edu/news/articles/article_999.html