To understand how solar cells heal themselves, look no further than the nearest tree leaf or the back of your hand.
The “branching” vascular channels that circulate life-sustaining nutrients throughout leaves and hands serve as the inspiration for solar cells that can restore themselves efficiently and inexpensively.
In a new paper, North Carolina State University researchers Orlin Velev and Hyung-Jun Koo show that creating solar cell devices with channels that mimic organic vascular systems can effectively reinvigorate solar cells whose performance deteriorates due to degradation by the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Solar cells that are based on organic systems hold the potential to be less expensive and more environmentally friendly than silicon-based solar cells, the current industry standard.
The nature-mimicking devices are a type of dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSCs), composed of a water-based gel core, electrodes, and inexpensive, light-sensitive, organic dye molecules that capture light and generate electric current. However, the dye molecules that get “excited” by the sun’s rays to produce electricity eventually degrade and lose efficiency, Velev says, and thus need to be replenished to reboot the device’s effectiveness in harnessing the power of the sun.
“Organic material in DSSCs tends to degrade, so we looked to nature to solve the problem,” Velev said. “We considered how the branched network in a leaf maintains water and nutrient levels throughout the leaf. Our microchannel solar cell design works in a similar way. Photovoltaic cells rendered ineffective by high intensities of ultraviolet rays were regenerated by pumping fresh dye into the channels while cycling the exhausted dye out of the cell. This process restores the device’s effectiveness in producing electricity over multiple cycles.”
The Latest on: Self-Healing Solar Cells
- The race to invent the artificial leaf on February 21, 2018 at 4:04 am
It would create a way to directly and affordably store solar energy while producing a carbon-neutral ... but also self-assembled out of solution, mimicking the self-healing catalysts found in nature. With the catalyst and bacteria working together in ... […]
- Is All the Hoopla About Microgrids Fake News? on February 15, 2018 at 9:00 am
The cooperative employs self-healing technology and a distribution management system ... Digital technology, declining costs of solar panels, storage and various generation options make microgrids a viable alternative for a much broader spectrum of the ... […]
- You Can't Touch Harvard's New Ambulatory MicroRobot on February 8, 2018 at 9:05 am
This efficiency allows us to travel further on a single battery, or even utilize alternative power sources such as solar cells. The caveat here with a comparison to insects is that we aren’t at the point yet of having self-healing materials or hundreds ... […]
- Reprogrammed Bacteria Build Self-Healing ‘Living Materials’ on March 24, 2014 at 9:07 am
but the researchers believe the demonstration of their new material opens the door for more complex devices like solar cells, self-healing materials or diagnostic sensors. The new “living materials” are similar to our bones, which are composed of cells ... […]
- Self-Healing Solar Cells Mimic Plant Leaves to Repair Themselves on August 15, 2013 at 10:06 am
Plant leaves are the ideal model for a lot of solar technology, so it only makes sense that developers of manmade solar panels would look to Mother Nature to improve the efficiency of their designs. Over time, solar cells wear down — just like leaves ... […]
- Self-Healing Solar Cells — Vascular Channels Based On Plant Leaves Allow For Self-Healing In New Solar Cells on August 15, 2013 at 4:39 am
Self-healing solar cells — possessing “vascular” networks similar to those in plant leaves — have now been created by researchers from North Carolina State University. The new solar cells are able to effectively and inexpensively restore themselves ... […]
- Tiny Solar Cells Can Rebuild Themselves on September 6, 2010 at 4:00 am
Minuscule solar cells that can fix themselves using the same building blocks as plant cells have been demonstrated, with our old friend the carbon nanotube one of the key components that holds these self-healing power units together. The ... […]
- Could we replace the nation’s pavement with solar panels? on August 28, 2009 at 5:00 pm
A while back I mentioned Solar Roadways, a clean-energy idea that appears kind ... intelligent, decentralized, self-healing power grid which will enable a gradual weaning from fossil fuels. … Fully electric vehicles will be able to recharge along the ... […]
via Google News and Bing News