About how solar panels work:
Solar panels are devices that convert light into electricity, that is, produce electricity thanks to solar light. Solar panels are called “solar” because they use sunlight most of the time (although they also work when is cloudy). Some scientists also call them “photovoltaics” which mean, basically, “light-electricity”.
Solar panels consist in a group of solar cells - photovoltaic cells or simply PV-, joined together in arrays or solar panels. Solar panels are usually installed over the roof of the houses, as this is the best place for them to be: all their surface is exposed to the light.
And if there are new types or more efficient ones, I can say "yes, there are". Solar industry is in constant development. As an example, I can say new 3D solar photovoltaic panels are being developed currently. This is innovative system will let a building to generate, at least, the 300% of the energy with a typical solar panel, as sunlight would keep hitting their surface during all the day, although the sun is moving.
Check this out if you are interested in reading more about 3D solar panels.
This site is also a good place to keep up to date on the solar sector. Have a look ;)
Hope it helps!