In the last decade we have seen the steady growth in the spread of solar panels. These tools, which are based on a principle as simple as it is effective, can help companies recover the right amount of sustainable energy.
We are still a long way from sustainable cities powered entirely by renewable resources, but we can boast a consistent growth in solutions based on renewables.
One technology always "in the laboratory": the researchers are working to improve its performance, up to obtaining solar panels capable of absorbing incoming light from all directions.
Scientists from the University of Surrey and Imperial College London have tried to achieve this result.
Following several experiments, the team made an ultra-thin solar panel with 25% more absorption compared to other panels of the same size.
Let's see how they did it and how the new "honeycomb" panel works.
Solar panels capture light at different angles
The team worked on a panel with a very particular shape, able to maximize its effectiveness. To make these new solar panels, silicon was used, a flexible and fit-for-purpose material. Dr.Marian Florescu (Advanced Technology Institute) explained what the difficulty they encountered in the beginning was and how the shape helped the panel absorb even more light.
One of the challenges of working with silicon is that nearly a third of the light bounces directly off it without being absorbed and without producing energy. A textured layer through silicon helps address this problem, and our messy, yet hyper-uniform, honeycomb design is particularly effective.
The new design is inspired by the wings of butterflies and the eyes of birds, harnessing nature to help technology. The new panels are able to attract light from every available angle, thanks to their revolutionary receptive surface.
Potential applications for this new discovery move from photovoltaics to space technology, setting a unique precedent in the world of sustainable energy. Thanks to the new design, even areas with limited light exposure could benefit from the use of solar panels.
With reference to the chosen material and manufacturing technique, ACS Publications recently published a document in which he defines the project as "the latest economical, reliable and ecological solution to exploit solar energy".
We just have to wait for the project to attract the attention of business partners of a certain level. If the game is worth the candle, we may very soon see honeycomb panels on the roofs of large companies.
A big step towards a much more sustainable industry.