Solar Panels Reminiscent of Science Fiction
While these solar panels may seem like they are out of this world, they are actually the next step in creating more effective solar energy production. With the boom in solar production and installation of solar panels in people’s homes, scientists are now investing and researching more than ever in new solar panel technology. They might not have real life applications right now, but in a matter of years you might found these wild inventions powering your home, business, school, or farm. These five technologies are the craziest we’ve heard of:
1.The Bionic Leaf
At Harvard University, scientists have created the bionic leaf. This creative invention uses enzymes to split sunlight into hydrogen and oxygen. Then utilizing the carbon dioxide present in the air, a bacteria converts carbon dioxide and hydrogen into liquid fuel. While the system is only at 1% effectiveness right now, these scientists have essentially recreated the photosynthesis process used in plants.
2. Solar Powered, 3D Printed Trees
A Finnish company known as VTT Technical Research Center has created a synthetic forest entirely powered by solar panels and 3D printed trees. The three trunks are made from biomaterials crafted in a 3D printer and the branches support a series of solar panel leaves. Currently the process is much less effective than traditional photovoltaic cells, but that doesn’t mean with more research and development we won’t find ourselves with a synthetic, solar panel forest in front of every home.
Stanford University researchers discovered that by using a mineral known as perovskites they can replace the silicon in solar cells and increase the efficiency of the solar panel process. Perovskites have a specific crystalline structure that can be created, incredibly cheaply, by using lead, ammonia, and iodine. In a recent experiment, a solar cell using perovskite trumped a silicon solar cell by almost 6%. With more research and development, there’s no telling just how much this discovery will impact the affordability of solar panel production and the efficiency of the energy conversion process.
4. Colored Solar Panels
Currently the color of these solar panels drastically diminishes their efficiency, but it does make them more aesthetically pleasing. Many homeowners are apprehensive of installing solar panels in their home because the chunky, black panels on their roof ruin the image of their house. Now, utilizing layered silicon dioxide, solar panels can be made with glass fibers and photonic crystal structures that can absorb sunlight and blend in with the roofs of most home. However, these panels are far less effective. While the blue panels are currently only 6% effective, with more research and development these panels can help mainstream solar panels and solar energy.
5. Thin Film Solar Panels
Cornell recently published a study that noted solar panels could be improved by changing the material chemistry. These photovoltaic cells are placed on a substrate similar to silicon to produce thin film solar cells. The thin, simple coating and liquid source make solar panels even more appealing for businesses and other commercial uses.