Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Idaho National Laboratory have come up with solar cells that continue to work after the sun goes down. The new type of cell absorbs much more than visible sunlight, it also absorbs infrared radiation, which continues to be emitted after the sun sets in the form of heat. The infrared radiation is absorbed by the solar cell using specially designed nano-antennas sitting on the surface of the cell.
Steven Novack, of the Idaho National Laboratory, has been working on this concept since 2008, and this week he announced that his team has created this new type of solar cell. The new cell, which can also absorb radiation from many different angles, has an estimated overall efficiency of 46 percent.