Scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory announced Wednesday that they have been able to confirm a new high-efficiency solar cell design that utilizes nearly the entire solar spectrum.
Translation: They figured out a way to make solar panels generate electricity in the dark.
In earlier trials, the researchers used different alloys that achieved full spectrum responses but involved very high production costs. The advantage of gallium arsenide nitride is that it is very similar to a conventional semiconductor, gallium arsenide, and it can be produced with a commonly used fabrication method involving chemical vapor deposition.
The Lawrence Berkeley breakthrough represents just one path to increasing the efficiency and lowering the cost of solar cells. Over at Ohio State University, a full spectrum solar cell is also under development, and Stanford is pursuing a new technology that cuts around the problem of solar cell efficiency loss due to high temperature
In the meantime, you could just turn any metal surface into solar panels with photovoltaic spray paint.