Solar PV Panel Research Mimics Leaves and Improves Performance Output By 47%

  • Recent Solar Photovoltaic research conducted by scientists at MIT and Princeton have mimicked nature by studying photosynthesis and the self-generation ability in leaves.
  • The groundbreaking research found a 47% jump in performance output of solar PV Panels.
  • This research has also led to a breakthrough in self-repairing solar cells.

Through the study of photosynthesis, scientists at MIT and Princeton have created solar panels mimicking process and design in leaves. By emulating the curves and veins on leaves, these panels produce roughly 47% more electricity. The panel that they came up with is flexible, made from a silicone hydrogel and more resilient than the traditional rigid design solar panel.

The study goes one step further by emulating the ability of leaves to self-regenerate. As the chloroplast in leaves degenerates, a leaf will replenish fuel cells and repair the damage. The study copies this process through the use of a hydrogel medium with embedded channels that allows a rapid and uniform supply of photoactive reagents by a convection-diffusion mechanism.  The study claims that repetitive restoration of photovoltaic performance after intensive device degradation is demonstrated.

The challenge is to package the bio-mimicry in a manner that it can be mass produced. No doubt this is currently being investigated. So do not be surprised if you see solar panels looking like very large leaves in the future. The paper titled Re-generable Photovoltaic Devices with a Hydrogel-Embedded Microvascular Network, was published in 2013 by Hyung-Jun Koo & Orlin D. Velev.  Read full paper

Author: Bryan Groenendaal

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Green Building Africa promotes the need for net carbon zero buildings and cities in Africa. We are fiercely independent and encourage outlying thinkers to contribute to the #netcarbonzero movement. Climate change is upon us and now is the time to react in a more diverse and broader approach to sustainability in the built environment. We challenge architects, property developers, urban planners, renewable energy professionals and green building specialists. We also challenge the funding houses and regulators and the role they play in facilitating investment into green projects. Lastly, we explore and investigate new technology and real-time data to speed up the journey in realising a net carbon zero environment for our children.

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