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Flexible solar sheet can capture more than 90 percent available light

Flexible solar sheet can capture more than 90 percent available light

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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 ga...

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.

See all solar videos and articles.

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Larry Dignan

Editor-in-Chief

Editor-in-Chief Larry Dignan is editor-in-chief of SmartPlanet and ZDNet. He is also editorial director of TechRepublic. Previously, he was an editor at eWeek, Baseline and CNET News. He has written for WallStreetWeek.com, Inter@ctive Week, New York Times and Financial Planning. He holds degrees from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and the University of Delaware. He is based in New York but resides in Pennsylvania. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure