Researchers at MIT are working on a electricity generating process called ‘photothermovoltaics’ instead of the usual photovoltaics used in the solar cells and panels we all know.
Photo is the ancient Greek word for light and thermo the ancient Greek for heat. (The volta part for electricity is named for Alessandro Volta, inventor of the battery)
Working on cells that could convert heat as well as light into electricity is something many have worked on as theory, but it looks like MIT may have something practical in the works.
From the MIT Technology Review:
A team of MIT scientists has built a different sort of solar energy device that uses inventive engineering and advances in materials science to capture far more of the sun’s energy. The trick is to first turn sunlight into heat and then convert it back into light, but now focused within the spectrum that solar cells can use. While various researchers have been working for years on so-called solar thermophotovoltaics, the MIT device is the first one to absorb more energy than its photovoltaic cell alone, demonstrating that the approach could dramatically increase efficiency.
Read the whole article at MIT Technology Review