Researchers at McMaster University in Ontario have grown light-absorbing nanowires that can absorb more energy from the sun than the silicon ones. The challenge for the researchers is to improve the nanowires' efficiency without bringing up the cost. Can they do it?
The research team, led by Ray LaPierre, a professor in the university's engineering physics department, has three years and $600,000 to try to achieve this goal. If they succeed the nanowires will be more efficient (about 20 % -40% efficiency). This will also allow solar panels to be inexpensive and flexible hopefully making it more affordable for consumers.
The nanowires contain several multiple layers of materials including: gallium arsenide, indium gallium phosphide, aluminum gallium arsenide, and gallium arsenide phosphide. This multilayer of material is what allows the nanowires, which grow upward, to absorb more light than a flat solar cell. For more information on nanowires visit Technology Review .