A team of researchers from Melbourne’s Swinburne University of Technology and Suntech have developed what they clain to be the world’s most efficient broadband nanoplasmonic thin-film solar cells.

The researchers initially improved silicon based thin film cell efficiency by embedding gold and silver nanoparticles into the cells. This increases the wavelength range of the absorbed light. The team then incorporated nucleated or ‘bumpy’ nanoparticles. These scatter light even further into a broadband wavelength range, leading to greater absorption and improved cell efficiency.

The researchers claim an absolute efficiency of 8.1%, and expect to achieve 10% within the next months, using the technology.

Professor Min Gu, Director of the Victoria-Suntech Advanced Solar Facility, said that "One of the main potential applications of the technology will be to cover conventional glass, enabling buildings and skyscrapers to be powered entirely by sunlight."

Panels using the technology are expected to be available commercially by 2017.