New coating helps solar panels absorb more sunlight

Researchers from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York have come up with a new coating for solar panels that absorbs almost all available sunlight from nearly every angle.  This could greatly increase the efficiency of current solar panels.

Current solar panels even with anti-reflective coatings, can only absorb about two-thirds of the sunlight that hits them, but the new coatings allow the cells to absorb a tremendous 96.2% of the available sunlight.  Rensselaer’s Shawn-Yu Lin says that their technology allows the cells to capture more colors in the solar spectrum and also light from any angle.    Current solar panels look somewhat blue in color – this shows that blue is one of the colors that isn’t being absorbed.  The new coating makes the panels look totally black – hardly any frequencies are being reflected.   Also, in order to capture light from any angle, the new coating consists of seven layers of porous material stacked on each other so that each layer enhances the antireflective abilities of each layer below.  This way, the seven layers trap light from all angles.

Even more importantly, Lin feels that this material could be applied to all types of solar cells and that it won’t require large changes in production techniques to start using it.

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