Innovation That Matters

The technique can be used to collect sunlight to heat etched metal surfaces | Photo source University of Rochester photo / J. Adam Fenster

Scientists turn metal into ‘perfect’ solar energy absorber

Agriculture & Energy

The team uses lasers to turn metal into a material able to absorb solar energy

Register for full access

Our library content is no longer freely available. Please register to gain access to more than 12,000 innovations, updated daily. Our content is global in scope and covers solutions to the world's biggest challenges across 18 sectors.

Spotted: Scientists at the University of Rochester have developed a method of turning metal into an effective solar energy absorber. The work has the potential to help harness solar energy.

The team uses lasers to make minute lines in a nanonanoscale structure. The etched surface improves energy absorption from sunlight and reduces heat dissipation, with the result being the world’s first “perfect metallic solar absorber”, according to Professor Chunlei Guo, a lead author in the study.

The laser etchings work best on tungsten, which is already used as a thermal solar absorber. The etched version was 130 per cent more efficient at thermal electrical generation than untreated tungsten. 

The team has also previously discovered a method to turn almost any metal pitch black, using laser pulses. It has also created metals that attract and repel water. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Army Research Office, and the National Science Foundation have all funded the research.

Explore More: Energy Innovations | Sustainability Innovations




Download PDF

Springwise Services:
Our expertise in spotting the latest innovations is the best resource to empower your team’s future planning.

Find out More