Whether it's an old Jackie Chan movie or a hilarious episode of "Family Guy," Blu-ray discs are all one in the same, with all of them possibly holding the answer to better solar panels, according to a new study.

Solar cells work by converting photons of light into electricity. Previous research has shown that if microscopic structures (mere nanometers high) are placed on the surface of solar cells, light is scattered in such a way that it improves the cells' efficiency.

Well it turns out that Blu-ray discs, from comedies and dramas to action movies and documentaries, provide just the right texture to increase the cells' light absorption and performance.

The best patterns of nanostructures to place on solar cells are quasi-random ones, the kind that Blu-ray discs contain. Normal DVDs or CDs don't have the same high-density data that Blu-ray has, and therefore don't exhibit the same quasi-random patterns that are beneficial for solar cells.

"We found a random pattern or texture does work better than no pattern, but a Blu-ray disc pattern is best of all," lead study author Jiaxing Huang said in a press release.

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

The researchers used a Blu-ray of "Supercop," starring Jackie Chan, to create a mold for a quasi-random surface texture that they placed on a solar cell. They found that this pattern boosted light absorption by 21.8 percent over the entire solar spectrum.

"The big surprise is that the pattern worked so well," Huang told Live Science.

Very expensive techniques are usually needed to create quasi-random patterns suitable for solar cells, thus limiting their potential for mass production. But now Huang and his colleagues may have found a more inexpensive and widespread solution in Blu-ray discs.

The findings were published in the journal Nature Communications.

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