18 Apr '11, 4pm

Physics breakthrough could mean solar panels made of nothing but glass

Exploiting an effect previously thought too small to be worth anyone's time, a bunch of researchers at the University of Michigan have figured out how to exploit the magnetic properties of light in a way that could ultimately lead to solar panels made entirely of glass or transparent ceramics. "We've all been taught that this doesn't happen," professor Stephen Rand told Michigan Today . "It's a very odd interaction. That's why it's been overlooked for more than 100 years." The research is nowhere near the point of application -- currently, lasers are required to generate the effect -- but the boffins involved believe they can eventually reproduce it with focused sunlight. That could mean solar panels radically different from the ones we use today, which must absorb light in order to convert it into electricity. Ultimately they're predicting that up to 10% of the energy of ...

Full article: http://www.grist.org/list/2011-04-18-physics-breakthrough...

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