Published on July 27th, 2009 | by Jeff Kart5
Moth's Eyes May Hold Key to Solar Efficiency
Biomimicry is about emulating nature. Scientists at the Savannah River National Laboratory in South Carolina are using the concept to increase the efficiency of solar cells, peering into how a moth’s eye absorbs light.
Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy lab are working with the University of Florida’s Peng Jiang to study how special coatings that mimic structures found in nature can make solar cells more productive for commercial applications, homes and even space satellites.
“With most types of solar cells, you lose about one-third of the energy because the sunlight is simply reflected away,” according to Marie Kane at the Savannah lab.
But engineered coatings that mimic the way a moth’s eye absorbs light can reduce unwanted reflection from silicon solar cells from 30 percent to less than 2 percent.
A moth’s eye is so good at absorbing light because it consists of tiny, hexagonal bumps that are smaller than the wavelength of visible light.
Funding for the project comes from the federal stimulus package.
(Image credit: kaibara87 via Flickr.