By Shannon Hall
An invisibility cloak has been used in the lab to hide the metallic strips used in solar panels, making the devices more efficient at using the sun’s energy.
Invisibility cloaks are made of materials that can bend the path of light around them and so hide anything under them from view. Martin Schumann at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany and his colleagues have used one to create a prototype solar panel with a cloak over the metallic contact fingers throughout the panel that extract the generated current.
Although crucial, these metal strips also reduce how much light a panel can absorb, reducing efficiency by about 10 per cent. “In the end, solar cell energy has to compete with all the fossil-fuel energy and it’s essential to increase the efficiency as much as possible in order to decrease the costs,” Schumann says.
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