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Infrared Photovoltaic Solar Cells / Infrared Solar Panel

Researchers at an American university have devised an inexpensive way to produce plastic sheets containing billions of nanoantennas that collect heat energy generated by the sun and other sources. The technology is a step towards a solar collector that can be produced on flexible material.

Since about half the Sun's energy arrives at near infrared frequencies, the material will increase the amount of sunlight that can be harvested by panels mounted on the roofs of houses.

Infrared Solar Cell

Although the material is still at the development stage, the idea is that at some point in the not to distant future, this highly efficient material can act as a ‘skin’ and be wrapped around device such as IPods, mobile phones, cars, computers etc and act as an energy source as well as charging the battery.

The nanoantennas also have the potential to act as cooling devices that draw waste heat from buildings or electronics without using electricity. The nanoantennas target mid-infrared rays, which the Earth continuously radiates as heat after absorbing energy from the sun during the day. The nanoantennas sheets can be double sided and can harvest energy from different parts of the suns spectrum.

The amazing thing about this material is that it will still produce electricity long after the sun has set. This differs to normal solar cells that only use visible light and are active only during daylight hours.