The synthetic crystals possess a structure called an “inverse opal” to make use of and enhance properties found in the gemstones to reflect, diffract and bend incoming sunlight.
“Usually, in thin-film silicon solar cells much of the sunlight comes right back out, but using our approach the light comes in and it is diffracted, causing it to propagate in a parallel path within the film,” said Peter Bermel, an assistant professor in Purdue University’s School of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Birck Nanotechnology Center.
Compared to solar cells made of silicon wafers, cost is reduced 100 times for the thin films. However, they are less efficient.
“The question is, can we make up that lower efficiency by introducing new approaches to light trapping for thin film solar cells?” Bermel said. “Can we combine low cost and high performance?”
Read more at: Phys.org