Solar power is generated by photovoltaic cells, but two scientists are exploring different materials that could foster voltage from light’s magnetic effects.

Solar_Panels_in_SunshineScientists at the University of Michigan have discovered a new effect from an old property of light, which they say could lead to an “optical battery” that converts sunlight to electricity at a fraction of the cost of today’s photovoltaic cells.

Light has electric and magnetic qualities. Scientists had long thought, however, that the effects of light’s magnetic field were so weak as to be irrelevant.

No so, says Stephen Rand, a professor of physics. Along with doctoral student William Fisher, he persisted in probing the long-ignored weak magnetic field that light produces when traveling through a nonconductive material, such as glass.

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Source: Mark Clayton | The Christian Science Monitor