Feeds

Brit boffins trap light in Lego-like lumps

Aluminium studs make solar panels more efficient

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Intelligent flash storage arrays

It's long been known that texturing the surface of solar cells can help them retain light and get more efficient. Now, a group of researchers led by Imperial College, London, has found that nano-scale aluminium “studs” on a cell's surface can improve its light-gathering by as much as 22 percent.

The team, which includes scientists from Belgium, China and Japan, says the idea is to reduce the cost of panels by reducing the area of absorbing material required for a given output since the absorbing material can make up half the cost of a panel.

As Dr Nicholas Hylton, of Imperial College London's Department of Physics, explains: “As the absorbing material alone can make up half the cost of a solar panel our aim has been to reduce to a minimum the amount that is needed”.

The 100-nanometre rows of aluminium cylinders were attached to the top of the solar panel in an arrangement not unlike Lego. This structure helps reflect and trap individual rays of light in the absorbing material for longer, extracting more energy from the light.

Lego-like structures trap light

Tiny aluminium 'studs' trap light in the solar panel

Image: Dr Nicholas Hynton, Imperial College London

Similar effects have been seen with microstructures of silver or gold, but Dr Hylton told Phys.org aluminium is both cheaper than those metals, and has a better interaction with light.

“Gold and silver both have a strong effect on passing light rays, which can penetrate into the tiny studs and be absorbed, whereas aluminium has a different interaction and merely bends and scatters light as it travels past them into the solar cells,” he said. ®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
GRAV WAVE DRAMA: 'Big Bang echo' may have been grit on the scanner – boffins
Exit Planet Dust on faster-than-light expansion of universe
Mine Bitcoins with PENCIL and PAPER
Forget Sudoku, crunch SHA-256 algos
SpaceX Dragon cargo truck flies 3D printer to ISS: Clawdown in 3, 2...
Craft berths at space station with supplies, experiments, toys
NASA rover Curiosity drills HOLE in MARS 'GOLF COURSE'
Joins 'traffic light' and perfect stony sphere on the Red Planet
'This BITE MARK is a SMOKING GUN': Boffins probe ancient assault
Tooth embedded in thigh bone may tell who pulled the trigger
DOLPHINS SMELL MAGNETS – did we hear that right, boffins?
Xavier's School for Gifted Magnetotaceans
Big dinosaur wowed females with its ENORMOUS HOOTER
That's right, Doris, I've got biggest snout in the prehistoric world
Japanese volcano eruption reportedly leaves 31 people presumed dead
Hopes fade of finding survivors on Mount Ontake
That glass of water you just drank? It was OLDER than the SUN
One MEELLION years older. Some of it anyway
prev story

Whitepapers

A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.