Schott Solar announced Thursday it has developed a new surface structure that will make its solar cells more efficient.

The company said the surface, called ISO Texture, has been able to increase the electricity output of its solar panels by 0.3 to 0.5 percent, while using 5 percent less silicon per watt. The company began using the process in October.

In a worldwide shortage of solar-grade silicon, the key ingredient has become much more expensive and companies have been looking for ways to use less.

Essentially, Schott has developed a wet chemical process to roughen the surface of the solar cells, according to a company spokesman. Roughening up the cells reduces their reflection and increases their surface areas, allowing them to absorb more light.

The technology was developed in Schott's research centers with the help of research institutes and German industry, according to a press release.

The company's ASE-165 GTFT/MCI series of panels will be the first to have the new texture, Schott said, adding that it plans to roll out the technology for all of its products.