Scientists in Spain have announced the development of silicon photovoltaic cells capable of converting the sun’s infrared rays to electrical energy, opening the possibility of increasing PV efficiency. In an article on Nanowerk News, researchers from the Universitat Politècnica de València, the Spanish National Research Council, the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya-Barcelona Tech, and the Universidad Rovira i Virgili de Tarragona made the joint announcement.

According to the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya’s Moisés Garín, the cells trap infrared light and spins it until it is turned into electricity.

Infrared light makes up approximately 53 percent of the solar spectrum, and is normally experienced as heat. However, it cannot currently be used by PV to create electricity. Visible light, which typically powers PV cells, constitutes 44 percent, and ultraviolet 3 percent. An infrared absorbing cell, therefore, could theoretically double solar’s efficiency.