Thank you for visiting nature.com. You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript. The efficiency of generating electricity from heat using concentrated solar power plants (which use mirrors or lenses to concentrate sunlight in order to drive heat engines, usually involving turbines) may be appreciably increased by operating with higher turbine inlet temperatures, but this would require improved heat exchanger materials. By operating turbines with inlet temperatures above 1,023 kelvin using closed-cycle high-pressure supercritical carbon dioxide (sCO2) recompression cycles, instead of using conventional (such as subcritical steam Rankine) cycles with inlet temperatures below 823 kelvin1,2,3, the relative heat-to-electricity conversion efficiency may be increased by more than 20 per cent. The resulting reduction in the cost of dispatchable electricity from concentrated solar power plants (coupled with thermal energy storage4,5,6) wou...