News Brief

Magnetism Could Generate Solar Power Without Solar Panels

Researchers in applied physics at the University of Michigan have discovered a method that uses the magnetic component of light to generate electricity without using semiconductors or photovoltaic (PV) panels.

Light is composed of electric and magnetic waves, and when it passes through certain transparent materials, the magnetic waves are amplified, causing electrons to move away from their nuclei, which creates a static electric field. Conductive materials can be placed on either end of the transparent material to collect the voltage generated across the static electric field, a method that could potentially achieve close to 100% conversion efficiency, because it does not rely on the heat-creating light absorption that limits efficiency of PV panels.

It could also potentially be used in tandem with PV panels. The researchers have applied for a patent and are currently investigating suitable transparent materials to use in further experiments.

Published November 1, 2011

Dick, E. (2011, November 1). Magnetism Could Generate Solar Power Without Solar Panels. Retrieved from

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