Generally most tech news is great for the consumer, but not so great for dear mother earth – upgrade cycles create more hazardous landfill than the factories of some countries. So it’s always nice when we can report on something with no obvious ecological downside.
Traditional, all-silicon solar cells haven’t exactly been the most efficient of energy gathering methods, letting a lot of infrared light go to waste. Thankfully that might soon be about to change, as MIT researchers have discovered a new type of cell made up of carbon nanotubes and C60 that effectively covers this mostly untapped spectrum. When combined with its traditional sibling, the all-carbon solar cells would allow installations to absorb close to the full range of light available.
Currently, efficiency is around 0.1 percent, but this will improve with further fine-tuning, and the team behind the carbon cells are inviting other teams to join in the quest to maximise potential. Even if it doesn’t get very high, as long as the cells are cheap to manufacture they could still have a significant impact.