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Brief Published: 12 Aug 2013

Solar Power Breakthrough


Researchers from Stanford University and UCLA in the US have separately created thinner, more efficient films to absorb solar energy. The developments could accelerate wider plans to convert solar energy into fuel and electricity.

Last month, a team from UCLA’s Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science (HSSEAS) announced the development of a new solar film that can convert 7.3% of the solar energy it absorbs into electricity. The conversion rate is almost double that achieved by a previous version of the film.

“The ability to harvest energy from a wider part of the spectrum promises to significantly increase the efficiency of solar devices,” lead researcher Yang Yang told Stylus. 

He went on: “Applying this technology to windows on the sides of office buildings could generate enormous amounts of energy from what are now idle surfaces. The sides of buildings offer much larger surfaces than rooftops.”

Similarly, scientists from Stanford University have reportedly developed the world’s thinnest solar-absorbing film. “Achieving complete absorption of visible light with a minimal amount of material is highly desirable for many applications, including solar energy conversion to fuel and electricity,” researcher Stacey Bent said in a statement.

For more on key innovations in sustainable technologies, see Clean Energy and Bacteria Biofuel.