Scientists over at Natcore Tech have created what is now the "blackest" solar cell to date. While that might sound as trivial as creating a white iPhone, this is a fairly huge advancement in the world of solar technology. With an average reflectance of 0.3%, these black silicon wafers absorb more light than any other out there, which means more of the sun's energy is actually converted into energy.
By the way, reflectance is the ratio of reflected light to that of which actually hits the surface. So a reflectance of 0.3% means that only 0.3% of all light is reflected from the solar cell's surface and that the remaining 99.7% is absorbed.
This breakthrough makes industry standards such as anti-reflective coatings now obsolete. Those coatings perform poorly anyway, especially during morning and afternoon hours when the sun is at an angle. The black solar also outperforms standard cells on cloudy days.
“One of the ways this matters,” said Chuck Provini, the company’s CEO, “is that there isn’t a whole lot of difference between the electricity you get on a sunny day vs. a cloudy day. Diffused light won’t matter that much.”
Its higher energy output, combined with a lower cost using Natcore's patented process, could quickly make black silicon the global solar technology of choice.
Of course, with every new solar breakthrough comes the promise of grossly affordable solar cells and the clean tech utopia we've all been hoping for. I don't think this totally changes the game but it could lead to advancements that might. So I am hopeful.
One thing is for sure, this is the one instance where black is...the new black.