Don’t get too excited. What follows is a report about theoretical research in the lab which is a long way from commercial viability, but the implications of that research are simply staggering. Heat is the enemy of today’s solar panels. If they get too hot, their efficiency plummets. Researchers are working on ways to siphon some of that heat off and use it for other purposes, like making hot water.

Scientists at Rice University are taking a different approach — turning heat into light which can then be used to make electricity. They say their research could ultimately lead to solar panels that are 80% efficient. That would make panels that are four times more efficient than any commercially available panels today.

“Any hot surface emits light as thermal radiation,” Gururaj Naik, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at Rice, tells PV Magazine. “The problem is that thermal radiation is broadband while the conversion of light to electricity is efficient only if the emission is in a narrow band.”

Originally posted by Steve Hanley. For the full story, click here.