The surface pattern on a Blu-ray disc can be used to boost solar-cell performance.

Light is absorbed and scattered in unusual ways by nanometre-scale patterns found on iridescent surfaces, such as insect wings, because the patterns are neither completely periodic nor random. They also allow solar cells to absorb more light, but making such patterns in photonic devices is difficult and expensive. Cheng Sun, Jiaxing Huang and their colleagues at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, discovered that the pits and islands on the surface of Blu-ray movie discs have the same pattern. They used these discs to imprint the patterns on to an organic thin film of a solar cell.

The device absorbed 22% more of the energy from incoming sunlight than an unpatterned solar cell.

Nature Commun. 5, 5517 (2014)