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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.

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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 Grไtzel cells for inventor Michael Grไtzel. 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 Grไtzel 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 February 1, 2015 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 February 1, 2015).

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