MIT researchers have devised something they call the Solar Concentrator which is to be placed on top of existing solar cells. Its purpose is to separate the visible and infrared spectra of light by absorbing the visible spectrum and routing the energy to specialized cells. They claim this could lead to doubling the panel’s efficiency and greatly reducing costs.
We have seen many promising advances to solar panel efficiency in the past few years, but what is special about this one is the amazingly simple and cheap technique. Essentially, all the team has done is coat a piece of glass with simple organic dyes. After the organic molecules absorb the visible light, they remit the energy to the sides of the glass where it can be routed to their specific cells. The process is more efficient because the dye absorbs the light rather than something expensive like silicon. That means less silicon, and thus a better price range. Also, the fact that this material is just a piece of glass also opens up the possibility of solar windows.