Boost for solar cells also makes self-driving cars safer

Engineers from Sanford University working to make solar cells more cost effective ended up finding a method for making sonar-like collision avoidance systems in self-driving cars.

One of the biggest challenges facing solar cells is that the thicker the silicon used, the more light is absorbed. But silicon is expensive. Using a nanotextured surface the engineers figured out how to create a very thin layer of silicon that could absorb as many photons as a much thicker layer of the costly material.

When they shared these efficiency figures, other engineers working on autonomous vehicles began asking whether this texturing technique could help them get more accurate results from a collision-avoidance technology called LIDAR, which is conceptually like sonar except that it uses light rather than sound waves to detect objects in the car’s travel path.

Read more at Futurity

This story is also part of our November 24 7-IN-7 podcast about solar panels and cells

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