Invisibility Cloak Bends Light to Boost Solar Cell Output

November
2015

If Harry Potter were to design solar panels for Hogwarts, his invisibility cloak may come in handy. But rather than providing a sneaky hideout for the wizards, the cloak would conceal dead zones on solar cells.

Such a technology would redirect sunlight around non-light-absorbing areas to active spots, thereby increasing the efficiency of photovoltaic cells.

Conventional photovoltaic cells can transform approximately 20% of the sun’s incoming energy into usable power, while the other 80% is lost. Although several factors (e.g., temperature) can lower solar-cell efficiency, one particular problem involves so-called contact fingers. These metal strips, which cover about one-tenth of the surface area of solar cells and extract the electricity generated by the cells, reduce the area available to absorb sunlight...

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