The pattern of information written on a Blu-ray disc works very well for improving light absorption across the solar spectrum, the findings showed.

"We had a hunch that Blu-ray discs might work for improving solar cells, and, to our delight, we found the existing patterns are already very good," said Jiaxing Huang, associate professor at the Northwestern University in the US.

"It is as if electrical engineers and computer scientists developing the Blu-ray technology have been subconsciously doing our jobs, too," Huang added.

Blu-ray discs contain a higher density of data than DVDs or CDs and when this quasi-random pattern, perfected by engineers over decades for data storage, is transferred to the surface of solar cells, it provides the right texture to improve the cells' light absorption and performance.

The researchers tested a wide range of movies and television shows stored on Blu-ray discs, including action movies, dramas, documentaries, cartoons and black-and-white content, and found the video content did not matter. All worked equally well for enhancing light absorption in solar cells.