In one of the most unusual discoveries about solar panels, one study has demonstrated that playing pop or rock music may actually increase the efficiency of solar panels by up to 40%. If backed by future research, this may lead to a revolution in how solar panels are used. For those who believed that pop artists were only good for rocking the crowds at concerts may change their minds when seeing solar panels increasing their energy output from being rocked by music.
The study, made by researchers at Queen Mary University of London and the Imperial College London grew billions of the tiny nanorods that are created from zinc oxide. The covered the nanorods with an active polymer to create a device that converts sunlight into electricity. They discovered that by playing sounds at levels around 75 decibels that the overall performance of the nanorods improved dramatically in capturing solar energy.
Basically, the pressure that is applied to the materials created from zinc oxide created higher voltage outputs, a phenomenon called the “piezoelectric effect”. Although this effect had been known for some time, it had not garnered much attention in the solar community until now. This is because it was believed that many sound waves simply cancelled each other out, resulting in no vibrations or stress. However, there are some frequencies that get through and create this effect which increases the voltage output.
What’s remarkable is that the actual sound level was relatively low, but it was the choice of music that seemed to have a more remarkable effect. When pop or rock music was used, the effect was heightened to the point where the panels were releasing up to 40% more energy. However, classical music did not have the same effect.
This is because most pop and rock music is played at pitch sounds that are generally higher than classical music. The acoustic solar cells respond more favorably to these sounds and the result has researchers and solar power companies rethinking their strategies in terms of producing more electricity. While pop and rock music were the key to discovering this phenomenon, they are not necessarily the only means of creating this effect.
Vibrations at these frequencies can be generated using a number of low power devices which could translate into a whole new era for solar power which has been growing in recent years, but nothing quite like this singular breakthrough.
The biggest impact may be for solar power devices that are naturally exposed to vibrations, such as vehicles and air conditioning units which can now generate even more electricity thanks to these vibrations. Another part of this study showed that the solar panels affected were the lower cost versions, which could mean that money is saved on creating more of these particular low cost solar panels rather than trying to develop them from more expensive materials.
However, since generating such audio sounds requires very little electricity, which may mean the future of all solar panels will shift thanks to the revelation of this particular research.