The design of checkered solar panels increases their ability to absorb light by 125%, according to a new study.

Researchers say this advance could lead to the production of thinner, lighter and more flexible solar panels which could be used to power more homes and used in a wider range of products.

The study – led by researchers at the University of York and carried out in collaboration with NOVA University in Lisbon (CENIMAT-i3N) – examined how different surface designs influence the absorption of sunlight in cells solar panels, which bind together to form solar panels.

Scientists have discovered that checkerboard design improved diffraction, which increased the likelihood that light would be absorbed and then used to create electricity.

The renewable energy industry is constantly looking for new ways to increase light absorption from solar cells into lightweight materials that can be used in products ranging from roof tiles to boat sails.

The silicon used to make solar cells takes a lot of energy to produce, so creating thinner cells and changing the surface design would make them cheaper and more environmentally friendly.

We have found a simple trick to increase the absorption of thin solar cells. Our research shows that our idea actually competes with the improved absorption of more sophisticated designs, while absorbing more light deep within the aircraft and less light near the surface structure itself. .

Dr Christian Schuster, Department of Physics.

Our design rule addresses all relevant aspects of light collection for solar cells, paving the way for simple, practical but exceptional diffractive structures with potential impact beyond photonic applications.

Dr Christian Schuster.

This design offers the possibility of further integrating solar cells into thinner and more flexible materials and thus creating more opportunities to use solar energy in more products.

Dr Christian Schuster.

The study suggests that the design principle could have an impact not only on the solar cell or LED industry, but also on applications such as acoustic noise barriers, windbreaks, non-slip surfaces, building applications. biosensors and atomic refrigeration.

In principle, we would deploy ten times more solar energy with the same amount of absorbent material: solar cells ten times thinner could allow rapid expansion of photovoltaic energy, increase solar electricity production and significantly reduce our footprint. carbon.

Dr Schuster

In fact, since the refining of the silicon feedstock is a very energy-intensive process, silicon cells ten times thinner would not only reduce the need for refineries, but also cost less, making our transition to a greener economy easier. .

Dr Schuster

More information: www.york.ac.uk