Solar power has shown a lot of promise as a present and future renewable energy source, but there’s still a lot of work to be done to improve the effectiveness of solar panels.

In addition to requiring a somewhat costly production process, most solar cells convert little more than 30 percent of the energy they absorb into usable energy. The rest radiates back into the atmosphere. Is there an affordable solution to the problem of solar panel efficiency?

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New research from Purdue University may be a step in that direction.

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Thermal Resistance And Improved Energy Absorption
Using a modified version of silicon wafers, researchers were able to improve the energy converting potential of solar cells to 50 percent. By coating silicon wafers with tantalum and silicon nitrate films, the research team was able to create solar cells that absorb photons from a specific range of the light spectrum.

This modification improved the thermal resistance of the solar cells—making it possible for them to maintain performance and stability even under temperatures of 535 degrees Celsius—resulting in considerable improvement in the cells ability to absorb usable energy rather than reflect it back.

Low-cost solar absorber promising for future power plants

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Low Cost Components And Considerable Application Potential 
The silicon wafers used to get these results are off-the-shelf, low cost components. They are also quite flexible and could be used on many different surfaces.

These advantages, combined with the simple structure of the components, shows considerable potential for boosting solar energy production capabilities in a range of applications, from large industrial solar farms and power generation facilities, to smaller, residential solar panel setups.

Additional research is still needed to see how this solar cell arrangement will integrate into a larger system for continuous energy generation.

What are your thoughts on this research and the use of basic components to improve efficiency? Tell us what you think in the comments.

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