Nanowires Concentrate Light Better than Expected

Guest_Jim_* - March 26, 2013 10:45AM in Science & Technology

Sometimes science is not about 'doing' but limiting as the mechanics of some systems can prevent some reactions from happening. This is true of the photoelectric effect, which solar panels use to convert sunlight into electricity, but is limited to roughly 35% efficiency. There are ways around this limit though, such as by concentrating the sunlight, and now researchers at the Niels Bohr Institute have found that nanowires are much more effective concentrators than previously thought.

The nanowires are cylindrical crystals that are thousands of times smaller than a human hair and have potential uses in quantum computers and future electronics. As it turns out though, when light falls on the wires the researchers were working with, it is collected and concentrated up to 15 times its normal intensity. Such extreme concentration could push a solar panel past the 35% limit.

Sadly solar panels using nanowires are still years away from production, but when the time comes, if combined with other advanced photoelectric technology, the result could be quite powerful.

Source: Niels Bohr Institute