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Breakthrough Invisibility Cloak Will Help Develop More Efficient Solar Cells

Posted By Brit Liggett On April 28, 2011 @ 11:05 am In Renewable Energy,Solar Power | No Comments

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Researchers at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany, working in the new field of transformation optics, have created an invisibility cloak that could lead to more efficient solar cells [1]. The researchers have been able to manipulate a beam of light [1] — a red light at a wavelength of 700 nanometers — to actually make something visually disappear. This isn’t all about making things disappear, however, the new technology’s biggest promise is in the refraction of light — which will help scientists concentrate solar rays into more efficient solar energy technology.


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Though the current cloak the researchers are working with is tiny — only half the width of a human hair — it could mean huge things for the optical world. Researchers achieved their breakthrough by laser writing into a polymer material a 3-D pattern that looks a lot like a wood pile — the researchers actually refer to it as “logs” — which a light beam is then passed through.

When the light passes through the polymer, the 3-D pattern — which has logs of varying thickness — bends the light in ways never achieved before, which creates the illusion of invisibility. Researchers believe that if they could increase the resolution of their 3-D laser tools in order to decrease the size of their logs they could make a cloak that could work for the entire light spectrum — not just red light waves of a wavelength of 700 nanometers. That would allow them to develop an optical “black hole” which could increase the concentrated light in a solar cell [1] — thereby increasing its efficiency. How about Harry Potter and The Invisible Solar Cell — maybe the series hasn’t ended after all.

Via Science Daily [2]


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[1] solar cells: http://inhabitat.com/solar-power

[2] Science Daily: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110426111410.htm

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