A University of Missouri engineer has developed a flexible solar sheet that captures more than 90 percent of available light. The move could be big gain for solar panel efficiency.
Today's solar panels capture roughly 20 percent of available light.
Like most discoveries, these solar sheets won't be available immediately, but Patrick Pinhero, an associate professor in the Missouri University Chemical Engineering Department, aims to make prototypes available in the next five years.
How do these efficient solar panels work?
Pinhero and his team developed a thin, moldable sheet of small antennas---dubbed nantenna---to harvest heat. Nantennas are capable of collecting solar irradiation in the neared infrared and optical regions of the solar spectrum. Pinhero worked with a team at the University of Colorado to extract electricity.
The teams are looking to secure funding from the U.S. Department of Energy and private investors. A second phase will focus on harvesting energy at industrial complexes.
It appears that these efficient solar sheets are designed to complement existing solar panels. The moldable sheets could be incorporated into roof shingles.