Scientists at Cornell University have laid out the basis for a solar cell which could lead to more efficient ways of turning light into electricity.
Using a single carbon nanotube, the researchers created, tested and measured a simple solar cell known as a photodiode that uses an extremely efficient process that multiplies the electrical current.
About the size of DNA molecule, the nanotube was connected to two electrical contacts and placed close to two electrical gates with a positive and negative charge.
By shining lasers of different colours onto the nanotube, it was discovered that higher levels of photon energy had a multiplying effect on the electrical current.
Report author Nathan Gabor commented: "We are not only looking at a new material, but we actually put it into an application - a true solar cell device."
Earlier in the year it was suggested by researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory that introducing structural defects into carbon nanotubes could pave the way for the development of carbon nanotube circuits.