Insect eyes enthuse new solar dungeon design

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Packing small solar cells together, like micro-lenses in a devalue eye of an insect, could pave a proceed to a new era of modernized photovoltaics, contend Stanford University scientists.

The devalue eye of a fly desirous Stanford researchers to emanate a devalue solar dungeon consisting of perovskite microcells encapsulated in a hexagon-shaped scaffold. Image credit: Thomas Shahan/Creative Commons

In a new study, a Stanford group used a insect-inspired pattern to strengthen a frail photovoltaic element called perovskite from deteriorating when unprotected to heat, dampness or automatic stress. The results are published in a journal Energy Environmental Science (EES).

“Perovskites are promising, low-cost materials that modify object to electricity as good as required solar cells done of silicon,” said Reinhold Dauskardt, a highbrow of materials scholarship and engineering and comparison author of a study. “The problem is that perovskites are intensely inconstant and mechanically fragile. They would hardly tarry a production process, let alone be durable prolonged tenure in a environment.”

Most solar devices, like rooftop panels, use a flat, or planar, design. But that proceed doesn’t work good with perovskite solar cells.

“Perovskites are a many frail materials ever tested in a story of a lab,” pronounced connoisseur tyro Nicholas Rolston, a co-lead author of the EES study. “This infirmity is associated to a brittle, salt-like clear structure of perovskite, that has automatic properties identical to list salt.”

Eye of a fly

To residence a continuance challenge, a Stanford group incited to nature.

“We were desirous by a devalue eye of a fly, that consists of hundreds of small segmented eyes,” Dauskardt explained. “It has a pleasing honeycomb figure with built-in redundancy: If we remove one segment, hundreds of others will operate. Each shred is unequivocally fragile, though it’s safeguarded by a skeleton wall around it.”

Using a devalue eye as a model, a researchers combined a devalue solar dungeon consisting of a immeasurable honeycomb of perovskite microcells, any encapsulated in a hexagon-shaped skeleton only 0.02 inches (500 microns) wide.

“The skeleton is done of an inexpensive glue creosote widely used in a microelectronics industry,” Rolston said. “It’s volatile to automatic stresses and so distant some-more resistant to fracture.”

Tests conducted during a investigate suggested that a scaffolding had small outcome on how good perovskite converted light into electricity.

“We got scarcely a same power-conversion efficiencies out of any small perovskite dungeon that we would get from a planar solar cell,” Dauskardt said. “So we achieved a outrageous boost in detonate insurgency with no chastisement for efficiency.”


But could a new device withstand a kind of feverishness and steam that required rooftop solar panels endure?

To find out, a researchers unprotected encapsulated perovskite cells to temperatures of 185 F (85 C) and 85 percent relations steam for 6 weeks. Despite these impassioned conditions, a cells continued to beget electricity during comparatively high rates of efficiency.

Dauskardt and his colleagues have filed a provisional obvious for a new technology. To urge efficiency, they are study new ways to separate light from a skeleton into a perovskite core of any cell.

“We are unequivocally vehement about these results,” he said. “It’s a new proceed of meditative about conceptualizing solar cells. These skeleton cells also demeanour unequivocally cool, so there are some engaging cultured possibilities for real-world applications.”

Source: NSF, Stanford University

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