Research highlight

Solar power: Improving solar cell efficiency with Blu-ray movie discs

Nature Communications

November 26, 2014

Blu-ray movie discs can be repurposed to make moulds that increase the efficiency of solar cells, reports a study published online in Nature Communications. The study takes advantage of quasi-random nanostructures - random arrangements of islands and pits repeated in a logical order - present in Blu-ray movie discs, which are suitable for nearly optimal light trapping applications.

Many organisms in nature use quasi-random nanostructures for light manipulation, but it is only recently that the importance of these structures has been recognised and considered for engineering applications. However, expensive fabrication costs are typically required to produce these quasi-random patterns and remain an obstacle for their wide-spread application.

Jiaxing Huang and colleagues have identified quasi-random nanostructures suitable for photon management in the patterns created for data storage in Blu-ray movie discs. The authors find these structures are well suited for light absorption and light manipulation across the solar spectrum, regardless of the information stored on the disc. To test this, the authors use a Blu-ray movie disc (Police Story 3: Supercop) as a mould for a polymer solar cell. The resulting quasi-random nanopatterned solar cell exhibits increased light absorption over the entire solar spectrum and conversion efficiencies, compared to unpatterned solar cells.

As Blu-ray manufacturing is already suitable for mass-production, this finding may provide a cost-effective means of fabrication of photon management and light trapping devices that could be used to increase the performance of solar cells and other photonic devices.

doi: 10.1038/ncomms6517

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