Since the introduction of aluminum into major U.S. markets in the early 1900s, the reach of this metal has grown enormously. As aluminum enters into its second century of widespread use, new scientific and production technologies continue to expand its market potential. Solar panel nanotechnology and aluminum-air batteries will help lead the way toward the development of new and innovative markets in the 21st century.
New solar energy applications: microscopic aluminum studs
In new research, scientists have demonstrated that the efficiency of solar panel designs can be improved up to 22 percent by covering their surfaces with aluminum studs. These studs, which measure less than 100 nanometers in length, reflect light into the absorption layer of the solar panel. This technology opens up the potential of producing flexible solar panels that could be applied to curved surfaces and produced in sizes that complement laptops and portable electronic devices.