New infrared solar panels work even at night

Researchers at Idaho National Laboratory have developed a flexible solar panel able to collect infrared energy instead of the usual photonic energy.

The panel uses an array of nano-sized antennas that are able to harvest 80% of the available energy (most modern solar panels can only harvest close to 20%). The possibilities are endless with energy-collecting materials like this, and may at one point be used to coat roofs, charge batteries, and even be integrated into polyester fabric.

There is a catch though. The panels cannot currently convert this infrared energy into power that’s useful for electronics. It’s excellent technology for capturing energy, but converting it to 50-60Hz power is the part that isn’t quite working just yet. Hopefully they can iron out the kinks soon so we can take advantage of these panels.