Engineers from Stanford University have found a way to improve the performance of the materials used in solar panels to harvest the energy of the sun. Researchers used nanotechnology to accomplish the feat. They created a material called nanocrystalline silicon, which represents thousands upon thousands of tiny, spherical crystals that absorb sunlight. Researchers claim that the material is more cost-effective than its conventional counterparts. If the material becomes widely used, it could mean that future solar panels would be much less expensive than they are now.
The material’s benefits are two-fold: It reduces the amount of material needed to generate a viable amount of electricity and absorbs sunlight at a much quicker pace than its counterparts. These benefits contribute to a major increase in efficiency for solar panels and bring solar energy a step closer to beating fossil-fuels entirely in terms of energy generation.
Three layers of the material increases the absorption rate of solar panels by a staggering 75%. This makes the material the most efficient and best performing photovoltaic material currently available in the world. Researchers believe that nanotechnology has unlocked the key to success for solar energy and that if the technology is applied to other fields of renewable fuel, they too would see similar results. For now, however, Stanford engineers will focus solely on solar power, continuing to improve upon the material they have already created.