A group of researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) have discovered a pigment in a species of berries (Syzygium cumini) from the indigenous jamun tree that absorbs large amounts of sunlight. The scientists have been experimenting with the pigment (anthocyanin) and believe using it for mass production could make solar panels far less expensive, which might help provide a lasting solution to India’s chronic power shortages.

The anthocyanin pigment is also found in common fruits like blueberries, cranberries, cherries, and raspberries.

Most of today’s solar cells are made of either single crystal silicon or polycrystalline silicon, with the latter being more efficient, but also more expensive. The anthocyanin pigment is being used for dye-sensitised solar cells (DSSCs), which reduces costs and increases light absorption. The more efficiently a solar cell can absorb the photons striking it, the more electricity it can produce.

India is constantly grappling with power shortages, however the country is looking to increase its solar-power generation capacity from 10 GW to 100 GW by 2022, with a target of attracting $100 billion into the sector during that timeframe.

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