Why is silicone dominating in the solar industry? For one, it's an abundant material, coming from sand. Out of the different types of silicone used, the end results can create cells with efficiencies of up to 20 percent, claiming around $1 to $1.10 per watt. Others are pursuing thin-film technologies, which have much lower cost structures of around 70 to 80 cents per watt, but only exude efficiencies of around 10 to 13 percent. Other manufacturers have played around with other ideas like organic photovoltaics, but have yet to reach stable efficiencies at a low enough cost.
Meanwhile, a small team of experts who have been watching the market and landscape of the solar industry since its early beginnings have come together to develop a revolutionary idea. Using nanostructure-based coatings, Magnolia Solar, an American company located in Albany -New-York, is working on a concept that would allow for the full absorption of all light, boasting efficiencies of 15 to 20 percent as low as 50 cents per watt—the lowest on the market. NASA, the US Air Force and the National Science Foundation have already begun funding the research and pilot programs pushing this unique concept. Though similar technologies are used for defense applications, Magnolia's mission is to bring it into the commercial market by developing them more at significantly lower costs.