Blu-ray Discs get repurposed to improve solar cells | Science News


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How Bizarre

Blu-ray Discs get repurposed to improve solar cells

Polymer imprinted with movies' etchings captures more sunlight

1:57pm, November 25, 2014
Microscope image of a Blu-ray Disc

LIGHT-FETCHING PATTERN  Bumps and pits that encode data on a Blu-ray Disc, seen here in a false-color microscope image, can be imprinted on solar cells to improve light absorption, a new study shows.

Using Blu-ray Discs to watch movies is so 2006. Now they can boost the efficiency of solar cells. Imprinting the discs’ data-storing etchings onto solar cells increases the cells’ absorption of sunlight, according to a study published November 25 in Nature Communications.


Previous research has shown that making nanometer-sized etchings onto a solar cell’s surface helps trap more light, so Jiaxing Huang, a materials chemist at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., looked to Blu-ray Discs, which store data in the form of tiny bumps and pits. He and his team collected various movies and TV shows, and used a mold of the discs to imprint their patterns onto polymer solar cells.


The patterned solar cells that Huang’s team tested absorbed nearly 22 percent more light than smooth cells. By coincidence, Huang says, the manufacturing process to compress data and

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