Improving Solar Collectors with a New Design
Solar panels work by transferring energy from photons to electrons, but they are limited by what frequencies of light the material can absorb in this way. From Northwestern University comes a design for a new solar absorber with the ability to capture a larger range of frequencies, and can even hold the photons until the energy is absorbed. Made of metal and silicon oxide, the metamaterial can collect photons from a variety of angles, even though neither material is photovoltaic. Because of the design alone, the photons will resonate within the material and allow the energy to be converted into heat. Unfortunately this is not immediately applicable to solar cells, as the photons are not converted to electricity, but the shape of the device may be adapted for future photovoltaics. Until then, this research may open up new ways to control the flow of heat at the nanoscale.