On paper, collecting the sun's energy is a pretty great idea -- but most solar panels suffer from relatively low photovoltaic efficiency. On average, most panels will collect less than 20-percent of the light that hits it. Can we do better? Absolutely: but we'll need more Blu-ray discs. According to researchers at the Northwestern University of Evanston, Illinois, the microscopic hills an valleys found on a Blu-ray disc are surprisingly adept at trapping light. On a video disc this talent is wasted, but when the pattern is cast, molded and transferred to a polymer solar cell, it becomes a series of quasi-random nanostructures that increase photovoltaic efficiency by about 22-percent. The research, which was published in Nature Communications earlier this month, is just a proof of concept -- but if further research proves fruitful the "Blu-ray trick" could serve as a shortcut to creating more efficient solar cells.
[Image credit: C-laudiodivizia]