Current solar panel technology only absorbs and uses a small fraction of sunlight but the researchers have a found a way to make use of infrared waves with a structure that isn’t made from silicon, but of metal.
Metalsshow a phenomenon called plasmon resonance which are essentially waves or ripples of electrons that exist on metals where they meet air.
The resonances, say the Caltech scientists, can be tuned to other wavelengths by using nanostructures manufactured in a laboratory.
The researchers showed that metal surfaces can produce a potential to build up an electrostatic potential. The scientists preduct the possibility of solar cells using plasmoelectrics to be used with regular photovoltaic cells to capture both visible and infrared light.