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

By
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.

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