Scientists have been trying to increase the solar conversion efficiency of solar panels for a long time. However, there is another technique to make them do so. That is to remove those conventional solar panels altogether! No, it is not just a suggestion anymore since researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have managed to convert light into electricity directly in utilizing fiber-optic cables attached to solar cells.
This is a different way to gather power from the sun. To meet our energy needs, we need all the approaches we can get.
Explains Zhong Lin Wang, professor at the Georgia Tech School of Materials Science and Engineering, who leads the research.
How is it made possible?
The fiber optics covered with zinc oxide nanowires are further coated with dye-sensitized solar cells. While the former process enlarges the surface area, the latter allows optical fiber to interact with the dye molecules and to produce an electrical current. The flexible solar cells are inexpensive but less efficient than traditional solar panels at this moment. However, if the surface area is increased using the nanostructure displays, six times more efficiency is achievable.
“Multiple light reflections” inside the fiber leads to more chances of interaction with dye molecules. So better contact with the surface area is of prime importance.