Solar power is now mainstream. Graphene is a marvel of a material. But solar cells are only 21% efficient (which is a major accomplishment), and graphene hasn’t found many commercial uses, yet. Researchers have now found a way to use graphene-type qualities (ultra-thin and highly conductive) to capture 85% of the light striking the material. Rather than producing electricity, the energy can be converted to heat.
“The 90-nm ultra-thin metamaterial can rapidly heat up to as high as 1600C under sunlight in an open environment.” – IEEE Spectrum
It can also do so quickly, heating something from 30C to 150C in half a minute. How that heat is used is up to the developer, the D in R&D. At its simplest, the material can act as a cooking heat source that requires no fuel and hence produces no pollution. While handy as an emergency backup in some regions, in others it can mean dramatic reductions in deforestation, improved indoor and outdoor air quality, and labor and time savings for those using it. Most inventions take years or decades to reach commercialization, but this may be introduced to the market in two to three years.