Solar technology is at its boom and researchers across the globe are trying to find ways to optimize it. In a breakthrough, researchers at the UK’s Lancaster University have studied a crystalline material that can store the energy for several months.

The material is known as a metal organic framework (MOF), in which carbon based molecules from structures by linking metal ions. MOFs are porous, so they can form composite materials with other small molecules.

The researchers added molecules of the light-absorbing compound azobenzene to MOF. The finished material was able to store energy from UV light for at least four months at room temperature.

The azobenzene acts as a photo switch a molecular machine that responds to an external stimulus such as light or heat. Under UV light, the molecules change shape while staying in the MOF por framework, effectively storing the energy.

This feature could offer the potential to capture solar energy during the summer months so that it could be used in winter when the sunlight becomes sparse.

The would also prove to be invaluable for setting up things such as heating systems in remote locations and can further prove to be an innovation towards establishing an environmentally-friendly supplement to conventional heating in houses and offices.