Scientists have transformed new materials to mimic the sunflowers. The new materials can orient themselves according to the sunlight to soak up solar energy. The discovery published in Nature Nanotechnology promises a breath of fresh air for solar applications.
This new discovery not only means more energy generation but possibly new materials which can move robotics. The technology is capable of absorbing up to 90% sunlight during operations and also promises application in desalination of water.
The natural process of sunflowers called phototropism is difficult to mimic. It requires an understanding of oblique angles, considered challenging earlier. Moreover, it also meant creation of artificial substances which are self-regulating. The scientists used a stem like polymer, a nanomaterial which responds to light. The material converts light into heat and shrinks with increased temperatures. Moreover, the innovative material is only 1 millimeter in size.
A Promising New Road Towards the Future
The material also promises a large-scale commercial production. Furthermore, it can cover areas with sunflower forests someday according to the researchers. Currently, changing position of the sun is one of the biggest problems in the use of solar panels. Additionally, conventional materials simply proved impossible to work with as they failed to respond to changing angles. Conventional materials provided as much as just 24% solar energy. This new material promises to write a new chapter in creation of solar energy.
These new materials called SunBOs mixed hydrogel with nanoparticles. They also tested other materials like black nanoparticles and liquid polymers. They realized after a grueling research that these could be mixed to create something extraordinary.
The researchers worked at University of California. Scientist named Ximin He and his colleagues led the study. The study published on November 4 promises new insights into phototropism. It promises a deep insight in the first artificial material capable of the replicating phototropism.