Slowing down light: MIT researchers to make solar cells more efficient

It is high time we should obtain more reliable solar cells for alternative power. Researchers have been working restlessly to develop highly sophisticated technologies for solar energy. A team of researchers at MIT is now talking about slowing down the flow of light to generate more energy from heat and sunlight. The scientists under Nicholas X. Fang of the mechanical engineering department have invented an atomic substance called ‘metamaterial’ to reduce the speed of light and thus to reap more power from solar panels.

MIT slows light to absorb and generate energy
MIT slows light to absorb and generate energy

The metamaterial ensures absorption of a wide range of heat and light to produce highly efficient solar panels. Integrated to advanced solar panels, metamaterials can enhance up solar energy production with increased efficiency, the researchers claim. Metamaterials are a kind of artificial nanotech substances that are intensely thin and can be mounted on solar panels densely.

Metamaterials are developed from atom and they interact with light in an entirely different way. The researchers have managed to slow down the speed of light by one-hundredth times of its regular speed in a vacuum. The process will result in the production of more energy in a short time, says Nicholas X. Fang, the author of the research, which will soon appear in the journal Nano Letters.

The researchers used a pattern of wedge-style ridges to prove their discovery. Widths of the ridges are finely adjusted in a way that they can slow down the flow of the light and capture it to produce more energy. A wide range of wavelengths and angles of light help the pattern harvest energy from the process. The metamaterials, which are efficient absorber and emitter at a time, can either capture or release electromagnetic radiation for very specific wavelengths, like terahertz and microwave frequencies. In fact, the technology will let researchers enhance the efficiency of solar panels as well as to produce devices to generate power from heat.

Via: TGDaily

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