Researchers Find A Way to Build Cheaper Solar Cells Using Insect Eyes

A group of Stanford scientists plan to introduce cheaper solar cells by making use of a fly’s compound eyes.

The silicon solar panels are already being utilized for electricity generation yet the researchers are still in search for better and cheaper alternatives. A group of scientists from Stanford university are aiming to make a cheaper photovoltaic mineral known as “perovskite” for the people who are willing to shift to solar power.

This mineral is nearly as effective and efficient as silicon based solar cells for conversion of sunlight into electrical energy, but they have certain limitations. They are extremely brittle and can easily fade in the presence of other elements. The team is trying to discover a way to increase the material’s durability and they found their solution in the compound eyes of insects.

Hexagon Scaffold

The solution suggests covering perovskite microcells by hexagon-shaped epoxy resin scaffold which measures 0.02 inches wide. Then they gather a number of those together like a honeycomb to imitate the compound eye of a fly.

According to the study’s co-lead author, Nicholas Rolston, the scaffold wall helps in protecting the fragile minerals, mainly because epoxy resin is “resilient to mechanical stresses.”

Testing it Out

To test if their suggested solution works, the team conducted an experiment in which they exposed their design to high temperatures reaching 85°C and 85 percent relative humidity for 6 weeks. The result showed that their insect eye-inspired panel kept generating electricity even in the most harsh temperature conditions.

This is just the first step towards cheaper solar cells for everyone. Now the team will be looking for ways to direct large amounts of light reflected by the scaffold into the perovskite filled center of each cell.

Via Engadget