Solar energy industry is innovating everyday, working to develop new technology and improve the existent one in order to produce electricity based on renewable sources. Nowadays, scientists are working on artificial sunflowers that can maximize solar energy into a 400% more of efficiency.
These devices in form of sunflowers will have inside a SUNbot, which is a recent discovery made by researchers from the University of California Los Angeles ad Arizona State University, making the sunflower naturally bends towards light.
The artificial flower is made of a light-absorbing material commonly used in solar cells inserted in panels. This material is placed on the stem of the flower and it reacts to sunlight, making the top of the flower emerge to receive the light directly.
When the stem of the sunflower, which is where the SUNbot is placed, receives sunlight it heats up and shrink, which produces the bending of the device in order to be placed where the light hits directly. Then, where the SUNbot is well placed and receiving light correctly, the bending creates a shadow that makes the material cool down and stop absorbing energy.
This is a major advance in solar energy technology, since this procedure can easily produce 400% times more electricity than regular panels implementing a technology similar to phototropism, which is the movement a plant makes in response to a light stimulus so the pant cells can absorbe light to start the process of producing energy.
Currently, regular solar panels can absorb a 24 percent of the light coming from the sun. And now, thanks to the integration of several materials to create the SUNbots and scientists getting inspired from nature, the artificial sunflowers can actually improve capturing and producing energy in a 400 percent.
“This work may be useful for enhanced solar harvesters, adaptive signal receivers, smart windows, self-contained robotics, solar sails for spaceships, guided surgery, self-regulating optical devices, and intelligent energy generation (for example, solar cells and biofuels), as well as energetic emission detection and tracking with telescopes, radars and hydrophones.” A paper published by the working team expresses.
Solar energy keeps moving forward to achieve the expansion of the production of electricity from sunlight worldwide in the easiest and cleanest way possible. There’s no doubt in a few years, producing energy from non-renewable source will be matter of history.
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