The phrase ‘as interesting as watching paint dry’ has been given a new twist as research carried out at the University of California San Diego into creating the world’s darkest ever paint could revolutionise solar energy.

Physical Natural Sciences applicants should be aware that currently certain types of large scale solar power plants use thousands of mirrors to focus sunlight onto a central tower which is coated with dark, light absorbing materials. The principle behind this is that the light will be absorbed by the dark material, converted into heat and then finally converted into steam. This steam can be used to power turbines which will in turn produce electricity.

The problem faced at the moment for proponents of solar energy is that the dark material currently used just isn’t efficient, durable or resistant enough. Enter the University of California San Diego. Engineering and Computer Science applicants will be interested to note that by using nanotechnology built into the new dark paint, the research team in California claims it can harness and convert the light at levels that have never previously been seen.

Geography applicants may want to consider the impact on how cities are structured should solar power consumption increase and HSPS applicants will be keen to discuss the significance of environmental issues at election time.

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