Scientists reported in the journal Nature Communications that it is quite possible to boost the efficiency of solar panel cells through the application of blu-ray discs. Exploring the fact that solar cells convert light photons into electricity to power up its efficiency, light need only be diverged on the cells by placing nanometer high microscopic materials on the surface of the solar cells.
This works best by placing the nanostructures in a quasi-random pattern on the solar cells. Quasi-random here means a pattern that is not too orderly or random when placed on the solar panel cells. The reason for this is because completely orderly patterns induce single light wavelengths, and completely random patterns cause useless sunlight wavelengths to be concentrated on the panels.
According to Jiaxing Huang, a materials scientist from the Northwestern University of Evanston, Illinois, “For solar cell applications, we want to enhance light absorption over the entire solar spectrum — wavelengths from about 350 nanometers to 2,300 nanometers.” With the research conducted by Huang alongside his team, blu-ray discs can create quasi-random patterns for solar cells – whereas it was relatively impossible to achieve this due to high costs of fabrication.
Blu-ray discs have a higher capacity for data storage than normal CDs and DVDs, and they use 25-30 nanometers deep and 75 nanometers long to encode microscopic pits – and this is what computers use to represent the binary numbers 0 and 1 for computerized information. Having tested this technology using a number of blu-ray facilities, movie producers and video encoders will now be able to use blu-rays for their data storage.
The team of researchers found that that “The big surprise is that the pattern worked so well,” when extensive tests were conducted, and that the quasi-random pattern utilized by the material was “surprisingly well-suited for light-trapping over the solar spectrum.”