Scientists have developed a coating that can be applied to solar cells to help them reflect light from the sun.
The coating, called anti-reflective coating (or AN), can help solar cells reflect a wide range of wavelengths of light, and can help to protect them from the damaging effects of sunlight.
A coating of the same size on a silicon chip has the same performance.
“We found that it works in a very low-light environment, and the coating does not reflect as much light as the silicon chip would have,” says researcher Michael Fenton, from the Department of Chemistry at the University of Cambridge.
“It is a very important development because it opens up a new generation of solar cells that we could use to produce high-quality solar cells.”
ANs are not cheap, though they can be found in some small quantities on the market.
The team behind ANs says that it will be a lot easier to use solar cells in the future if manufacturers are prepared to invest in developing and manufacturing ANs.
They will be cheaper than the silicon chips that they are replacing.
They can be manufactured in small batches, so they will be much more cost-effective in the long run.
In fact, if ANs become widespread, the researchers say, the technology could reduce the cost of solar panels by almost a factor of two.
ANs would also help solar panels absorb solar radiation, which has been the mainstay of silicon solar cells for decades.
The researchers are now working to develop more efficient materials that could be used to make ANs, and they say that this could be done by replacing silicon with graphene, another non-toxic material.
But it will take some time before ANs have a major impact on the cost and efficiency of solar systems.
Future solar panels will be able to absorb much higher amounts of sunlight, so the cost will also have to fall.
In the meantime, the team will continue working on making ANs and developing new technologies that will help to improve the performance of solar panel materials.