Black Silicon Could Mean Improved Solar Cells

Silicon is in every piece of electronic equipment we own. However, when Harvard physicist Eric Mazur discovered black silicon, the substance was found to be a whole lot more sensitive to light, which could spell serious improvements in consumer electronics and more.

Black silicon was discovered in the late 1990's after a laser was shone on a silicon wafer that had sulfur hexafluoride on it. Once examined under an electron microscope, the wafer, which appeared black, had microscopic spikes all over it. This later proved to show an increased sensitivity to light. In fact, a "100 to 500 times increase in sensitivity to light compared to conventional silicon detectors," was found and the technology is now being implemented in night vision systems.


Black silicon is being used in sensor-based chips and could eventually be used in video cameras and other consumer electronics. However, one area that could benefit largely is photovoltaic cells. The solar panel industry could potentially be forever changed by this. Another benefit is that the manufacturing process of making black silicon is completely comparable to the process used to make standard silicon wafers. An eventual change over would be seamless.

[via DailyTech]