Researchers at Northwestern University have used Blu-ray discs — of Jackie Chan’s seminal Police Story 3: Supercop, to be exact — to increase the efficiency of solar panels by a massive 22%.
This one’s a bit crazy, but stick with me. Blu-ray discs, like CDs and DVDs before them, consist of a thin layer — or layers — of recording medium sandwiched between two bits of plastic. Data is stored on this medium in a series of pits — small indentations — that are about 75nm long. To read the data, a laser is bounced off the recording medium — where the medium is smooth and untouched (usually referred to as islands), the laser light bounces straight back into a sensor; where the pits are, the laser is reflected differently. Thus, binary data can be stored and read.