Material Traps Light on the Cheap

A new photovoltaic material performs as well as the one found in today’s best solar cells, but promises to be significantly cheaper. The material, created by researchers at Caltech, consists of a flexible array of light-absorbing silicon microwires and light-reflecting metal nanoparticles embedded in a polymer. Computational models suggest that the material could be used to make solar cells that would convert 15 to 20 percent of the energy in sunlight into electricity — on par with existing high-performance silicon cells. But the material would require just 1 percent of the materials used today, potentially leading to a dramatic decrease in costs

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