Blu-ray discs are a great medium for storing high-definition video, but unwanted discs could get a second life thanks to research from Northwestern University showing that the discs can be used to improve light absorption in solar cells. The discs’ semi-random pattern of islands and pits used to store video gives solar cells a desirable surface texture that can increase absorption over the broad spectrum of sunlight.
Repurposing Blu-Ray Movie Discs as Quasi-Random Nanoimprinting Templates for Photon Management, published in Nature Communications, explains how the nearly random sequence of zeros and ones on the discs provides a feature-size range between 150-525 nanometers, which can improve output throughout the solar spectrum. The researchers also tried random patterns, but found the Blu-ray patterns to be optimal, providing 21.8% overall broadband enhancement.
“In addition to improving polymer solar cells, our simulation suggests the Blu-ray patterns could be broadly applied for light trapping in other kinds of solar cells,” says Cheng Sun, one of the researchers on the project.
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