Can Algae Increase Solar Cell Efficiency? | Solar Power - PV Panels Researchers at Oregon State University and Portland State University have discovered a way to use algae to increase solar cell efficiency. Using microscopic algae called diatoms, dye-sensitized solar cells can produce triple the electrical output of ordinary solar cells. When specially-engineered diatoms are used in the production of thin film solar cells, light is captured inside the nano-scale pores of the cells. As a result, incident photons are trapped: electricity generation and efficiency are thus increased. OSU professor Greg Rorrer stated: In our system, photons bounce around inside pores formed from diatom shells making them three times more efficient.