A material that could be almost "ideal" for solar absorption has been developed by researchers.
The material, created by researchers at MIT, has a two-dimensional metallic dielectric photonic crystal, and has the additional benefits of absorbing sunlight from a wide range of angles and withstanding extremely high temperatures. Perhaps most importantly, the material could also be made cheaply at large scales.
The material works as part of a solar-thermophotovoltaic (STPV) device; the sunlight's energy would be first converted to heat, which then causes the material to glow, emitting light that could, in turn, be converted to an electric current.
Jeffrey Chou, of MIT's Department of Mechanical Engineering, said that the absorption characteristics can be controlled with great precision; the material was made from a collection of nanocavities, and the absorption could be tuned just by changing the size of the nanocavities.
This would be the first-ever device of this kind that can be fabricated with a method based on current techniques, which means it's able to be manufactured on silicon wafer scales, he further added.
The new material has already demonstrated that it can endure a temperature of 1,000 degrees Celsius (1,832 degrees Fahrenheit) for a period of 24 hours without severe degradation.
And since it could absorb sunlight efficiently from a wide range of angles, they don't really need solar tracker, which would add greatly to the complexity and expense of a solar power system.
The research is published in the journal Advanced Materials.