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Natural Solar Collectors On Butterfly Wings Inspire More Powerful Solar Cells

Date:
February 5, 2009
Source:
American Chemical Society
Summary:
The discovery that butterfly wings have scales that act as tiny solar collectors has led scientists in China and Japan to design a more efficient solar cell that could be used for powering homes, businesses, and other applications in the future.

Close-up of the scales of a butterfly wing. These scales have inspired more powerful solar cells.
Credit: Michael Apel, Wikipedia Commons, Public Domain Photo

The discovery that butterfly wings have scales that act as tiny solar collectors has led scientists in China and Japan to design a more efficient solar cell that could be used for powering homes, businesses, and other applications in the future.

In the study, Di Zhang and colleagues note that scientists are searching for new materials to improve light-harvesting in so-called dye-sensitized solar cells, also known as Grätzel cells for inventor Michael Grätzel. These cells have the highest light-conversion efficiencies among all solar cells — as high as 10 percent.

The researchers turned to the microscopic solar scales on butterfly wings in their search for improvements. Using natural butterfly wings as a mold or template, they made copies of the solar collectors and transferred those light-harvesting structures to Grätzel cells. Laboratory tests showed that the butterfly wing solar collector absorbed light more efficiently than conventional dye-sensitized cells. The fabrication process is simpler and faster than other methods, and could be used to manufacture other commercially valuable devices, the researchers say.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Chemical Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Zhang et al. Novel Photoanode Structure Templated from Butterfly Wing Scales. Chemistry of Materials, 2009; 21 (1): 33 DOI: 10.1021/cm702458p

Cite This Page:

American Chemical Society. "Natural Solar Collectors On Butterfly Wings Inspire More Powerful Solar Cells." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 February 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090204170548.htm>.
American Chemical Society. (2009, February 5). Natural Solar Collectors On Butterfly Wings Inspire More Powerful Solar Cells. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090204170548.htm
American Chemical Society. "Natural Solar Collectors On Butterfly Wings Inspire More Powerful Solar Cells." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090204170548.htm (accessed April 17, 2014).

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