In an effort to better the credentials of solar panels and thereby reduce the overall cost of solar generated electricity, researchers at MIT are proposing a radical design that seeks the creation of molecular-level solar energy funnels that can harvest broader spectrum of sunlight, something which conventional photovoltaic panels aren’t able to.
The secret behind the technique is the use of an ultra-thin material called Molybdenum disulfide. The device is created by the researchers by using a microscopic needle to poke a tiny hole in a thin film of MoS2 that is just a single molecule thick. This piercing creates a funnel-like shape and the pressure exerted by the needle creates elastic strain, which is highest at the center of the film. This varying strain material created by the solar funnel gives the structure the ability to harvest different sections at different wavelengths of light.
MoS2 is a natural semiconductor and the solar funnel gives the material the ability to respond differently to different colors of light. Although, the new research is currently only been tested on computer modeling, the researchers are hoping to carry out real-life experiments for the same.