The pattern on Blu-ray discs shown to improve solar panel efficiency by 20 percent

By Shawn Knight · 12 replies
Nov 26, 2014
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  1. What do solar panels and Blu-ray discs have in common? Quite a bit, as it turns out. Researchers at Northwestern University have discovered an unexpected yet useful purpose for old Blu-ray discs. It just so happens that the nanoscopic pits and...

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  2. Interesting, 20% gains just by doing...nothing! That's actually amazing! I wonder if this will actually make it to market since now Sony is going to claim that the researchers violated their copyright by making molds of the copyrighted material and then reproducing the copyrighted material. Do we see litigation on the horizon?
    TadMSTR likes this.
  3. Shawn, you should work in The Sun.
  4. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 3,336   +1,985

    From the description it sounds like the additional light is the consequence of more surface area (groved vs. flat) and that would be about +20% gain. It would be interesting to determine if these grooved areas are well polished and if not, how much more could be realized by grooved and polished areas. The last three solar projects I ran used the standard, flat panel surface; now I'm curious if a simple grooved, acrylic panel would boost the overall gain .... I think you've given me something great to research .... thanks!
  5. Bobs Yer Uncle

    Bobs Yer Uncle TS Rookie

    I have a gnawing, churning, very sick feeling coming on. It's the one that always warns me that an onslaught of incredibly despicable, stupidly expensive IP lawsuits are about to be launched by the MPAA or RIAA. I can imagine outrageous royalty demands of $X.XX per gigawatt generated, with a secondary per/gig royalty demand that is tiered & variable based upon the movie titles used for master pattern imprinting.

    Maybe they could get Solaris on the cheap; I don't think it did much in the way of box office or aftermarket.
  6. Littleczr

    Littleczr TS Addict Posts: 439   +86

    I have all ways been a fan of solar power. When I get enough money I would like to buy some solar panels for our roof.
    motrin likes this.
  7. Jad Chaar

    Jad Chaar Elite Techno Geek Posts: 6,515   +974

    This is absolutely amazing! Good to see that an easy efficient improvement was found!
  8. Now to see a commercial or residential application of the idea. Who knows how much this would actually increase the efficiency of solar panels or cost or lifespan.

    Until then, this idea is as good as the discs they supposedly used.
  9. tonylukac

    tonylukac TS Evangelist Posts: 1,372   +69

    Doesn't seem right. Blue color (as most solar cells are unfortunately) reflects the blue sky light and DOESN'T absorb it as energy. Some solar cells are gold and REFLECT the actual sunlight, being gold in color.
  10. Cecil Tanner

    Cecil Tanner TS Rookie

    Simple solution: Record stupid home videos to a blu-ray, use those to create all future stamps, and don't worry about copyright issues.
  11. jasphoto

    jasphoto TS Rookie

    Unintended consequences - If they test it further - I bet they find a dramatic decrease in efficiency as the pits collect dust / dirt faster and then are harder to clean
  12. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 1,923   +756

    I would not be surprised if they learned that is was because it was an effect similar to a Fresnel lens. Personally, I would be surprised if just polishing the surface would do much. I would think that flatness and parallelism would be much more important since the combination of both would act to reduce reflection and scattering.
  13. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 3,336   +1,985

    Wiyosaya - A very good point and a possible new opportunity at the same time. If it generated heat, some well packed quarter inch tube painted carbon black would generate significant heat to also drive the buildings potable water heating system and serve as supplemental convection heading as well! I've built several of these for heating only; it's surprising just how much heat output you can get. Now I'm curious if you altered the cut, say from a straight zig-zag to more of a curved surface what that effect would be ...... ahhhh, so many questions w/o answers ... it's good to have a hobby! LOL

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