Mike Chino

New Solar Material Captures Entire Spectrum of the Rainbow

by , 10/20/08

rainbow solar material, photovoltaic cells, alternative energy, ohio state institute for materials research, solar rainbow technology, visible light

Scientists at the Ohio State Institute for Materials Research recently announced that they have developed a new hyper-efficient solar material that is able to capture light from every spectrum of the rainbow. Whereas most photovoltaics are limited to collecting energy from a small range of frequencies, the new material is able to absorb energy from all spectrums of visible light at once. The breakthrough development heralds a new breed of extremely efficient solar panels on the horizon.

Sunlight contains the total spectrum of energy emitted by the sun, and visible light contains the range of wavelengths that we perceive as color. Whereas traditional photovoltaic materials only take advantage of certain wavelengths of light, Ohio State‘s new material can capture energy from the entire visible spectrum, which results in tremendous gains in the amount of energy it can absorb.

The new electrically-conductive plastic includes materials such as molybdenum and titanium. It operates upon the same principles as standard photovoltaic materials, wherein light energizes the atoms of the material and knocks electrons free to generate a current. Whereas in traditional photovoltaics the electrons are removed for a fraction of a second, in the new hybrid material the electrons are excited for much longer (7 million times) than before.

Malcolm Chisholm, Chair of the Department of Chemistry at Ohio State has said: “This long-lived excited state should allow us to better manipulate charge separation. . . There are other such hybrids out there, but the advantage of our material is that we can cover the entire range of the solar spectrum”.

Although the material is still several years from commercial development, the project is an exciting proof of concept and has received funding from Ohio State’s Targeted Investments in Excellence program.

+ Ohio State Institute for Materials Research

Via Cleantechnica and Nano Techwire

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5 Comments

  1. jandhal October 23, 2008 at 12:38 am

    is this for real? i recall an april fools posting of same photo, same idea
    that was a joke

  2. lewis October 21, 2008 at 5:42 am

    I wonder why its just the visible spectrum? Surely the panels dont care whether or not we humans can see the light that they’re converting into energy.

  3. Steve N. Lee October 21, 2008 at 2:41 am

    This is great news. Okay, so it’ll be years before you can get one of these on your roof, but at least we know the technology is viable and that it’s a vast improvement over what we have today.

    Plus, such breakthroughs have a knock-on effect – other researchers realise that things they might not have thought possible, indeed are, so it takes other projects in new directions. People building on other people’s ideas in how we’re going to crack sustainability. It’s not going to be one invention, by one guy, but a concerted effort around the globe with people working together, sparking off each other, taking current research in whole new directions. The next few years is going to be a very exciting time for alternative energy as it finally seems to be coming of age with breakthroughs such as this seeming to feature in the press almost weekly.

    Let’s hope that estimation of ‘several’ years to commercial availability is a very, very conservative estimate.
    Steve N. Lee
    author of eco-blog http://www.lionsledbysheep.com
    and suspense thriller ‘What if…?’ http://www.steve-n-lee.com

  4. PaTrond PaTrond October 20, 2008 at 3:40 pm

    Nice, only question I have is how long can I expect a panel to last before it wont capure energy anymore.

  5. Fair Trade Fair Trade October 20, 2008 at 5:52 am

    I’d love to see the results of a comparison of the panels that are currently available – it would be good to move away from so much news about what’s going to be available to what is available…

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