New laser material could make solar energy harvesting more efficient

19bg_solarlaser

A new laser material designed by scientists at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) could change the way solar energy is harvested and make solar power generation more efficient.

Unlike an ordinary flashlight, lasers can generate an intense, narrow beam of light of a single colour. Professor Ayush Pandey and his team of researchers at the Solid State and Structural Chemistry Unit of IISc have succeeded in designing a nanocrystalline material which can emit a concentrated beam of light from a smaller amount of light than ordinary lasers.

This material requires the lowest reported amounts of energy to start working as a laser. “It can thus convert extremely low energies of light into a laser beam,” Dr. Pandey said.

It is also capable of absorbing a wide range of colours of light, meaning that in the future, one could take a source like a light bulb and turn it into a laser beam, he added.

“This material can emit a weaker beam of light in a specific direction, which is not possible with most existing lasers,” he said. Laser materials existing today need a very powerful light source to work.

One of the possible applications of the discovery could be in solar power harvesting. The material can absorb a larger fraction of light from a source like sunlight, and emit it in a specific direction.

Having light coming from a specific direction makes it easier to harvested by solar cells.

This is one of the possible applications for the discovery, Dr. Pandey added. This material requires the lowest reported amounts of energy to start working as a laser.

 

(Originally published in The Hindu.)

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