As the world transitions away from fossil fuels, a wide consensus of experts believes that of all the green technologies available, solar energy is among the most sustainable—and cheapest.
Research innovation is pulling down the costs of new equipment, raising efficiently levels, and making photovoltaic panels more durable—and even recyclable.
Recently, a new upgrade developed by scientists at the University of York in the UK has increased the ability of solar panels to absorb light by a stunning 125 percent.
A potential game-changer, it holds the promise of harvesting ten times more energy for the same relative cost.
The team achieved this feat by utilizing a checkerboard design for their panel face, instead of the traditional flat panel surface. The new design reportedly increased the diffraction rate, which measures the probability of light being absorbed.
Moreover, the team’s innovative pattern also led them to believe that lighter, thinner, and more flexible solar panels could be a natural result.
According to Dr. Christian Schuster from the University’s Department of Physics, “We found a simple trick for boosting the absorption of slim solar cells. Our investigations show that our idea actually rivals the absorption enhancement of more sophisticated designs – while also absorbing more light deep in the plane and less light near the surface structure itself.”
“In principle, we could deploy ten times more solar power for the same amount of absorber material: ten times thinner solar cells could enable a rapid expansion of photovoltaics, increase solar electricity production, and greatly reduce our carbon footprint,” he wrote in the team’s research paper, published in the Journal Optica.
A partnership with NOVA University of Lisbon, the team states that the amount of silicon required for their panels that have thinner cells, would cut the costs of new panels. Further, it could lead to adoption of solar cell technology for specialized applications, such as anti-skid walking surfaces, for example.
In developing new solar cell upgrades, scientists know there is currently a limit for how efficient photovoltaic solar cells can be in converting the sun’s energy into usable electricity. A good, typical solar panel today will convert about 15 to 20 percent of the sunlight.
With upgrades like these, companies will undoubtedly increase that level substantially.