Converting Infrared Light into Forms More Easily Captured by Solar Panels

Solar panels are, in some respects, fairly simple, but the design of any given one involves a number of significant choices. Prime among these are decisions regarding which frequencies of solar radiation to focus on trapping and converting most efficiently. The sun bathes the earth in a vast spectrum of electromagnetic radiation while it is shining brightly, but particular materials only ever excel at capturing a relatively narrow portion of this energy. As those who get more info from a recent online report on the matter will come to understand, there are some interesting ideas now being explored whose realization could improve greatly on the status quo.

Every solar panel includes a specially engineered layer of semiconducting material that absorbs electromagnetic radiation and emits electrons every time it captures enough energy in the form of photons from the sun. Each such particular formulation, however, has a characteristic response curve that dictates its performance when subject to particular frequencies of electromagnetic radiation. Even the most efficient panel of all might produce very little electricity if exposed only to a fairly narrow, carefully selected band of electromagnetic radiation in a controlled setting. While conditions like those will never be found in real-world environments, such experiments can highlight the degree to which potentially useful energy is going to waste.

In the past, researchers have focused mostly on developing energy-absorbing materials that could take in and efficiently convert wider swathes of electromagnetic spectrum. While there have been plenty of notable advancements of this sort over the years, a new approach is starting to look like an even more interesting one. Instead of trying to stretch the efficient conversion band of particular materials even further, some scientists are now seeking ways to convert certain frequencies of light into ones more amenable to easy capture by photovoltaic layers.

Initially, for example, they hope to find ways of turning infrared radiation, which is normally mostly wasted, into frequencies that today’s solar panels can convert with great facility and efficiency. Should such approaches pan out, solar panels could experience another important leap forward with regard to how effective they are at turning the almost boundless supplies of energy that fall upon them into a useful electric current.