Published By
IDTechEx
Follow us:
follow us on twitter
subscrive to our rss feed
follow us on facebook
Email
Password
IDTechEx
Printed Electronics Europe 2015
Printed Electronics World
×
We welcome your response to this Printed Electronics World Article. Edited responses may be posted in our regular response column. Responses can be anonymous, otherwise, please leave your name and email address.
Name
Email
Response
Enter this code here
 

Mimicking nature, water-based 'artificial leaf' produces electricity

ZoomMimicking nature, water-based 'artificial leaf' produces electricity
A team led by a North Carolina State University researcher has shown that water-gel-based solar devices - "artificial leaves" - can act like solar cells to produce electricity.
 
The findings prove the concept for making solar cells that more closely mimic nature. They also have the potential to be less expensive and more environmentally friendly than the current standard-bearer: silicon-based solar cells.
 
The bendable devices are composed of water-based gel infused with light-sensitive molecules - the researchers used plant chlorophyll in one of the experiments - coupled with electrodes coated by carbon materials, such as carbon nanotubes or graphite. The light-sensitive molecules get "excited" by the sun's rays to produce electricity, similar to plant molecules that get excited to synthesize sugars in order to grow, says NC State's Dr. Orlin Velev, Invista Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and the lead author of a paper published online in the Journal of Materials Chemistry describing this new generation of solar cells.
 
Velev says that the research team hopes to "learn how to mimic the materials by which nature harnesses solar energy." Although synthetic light-sensitive molecules can be used, Velev says naturally derived products - like chlorophyll - are also easily integrated in these devices because of their water-gel matrix.
 
Now that they've proven the concept, Velev says the researchers will work to fine-tune the water-based photovoltaic devices, making them even more like real leaves.
 
"The next step is to mimic the self-regenerating mechanisms found in plants," Velev says. "The other challenge is to change the water-based gel and light-sensitive molecules to improve the efficiency of the solar cells."
 
Velev even imagines a future where roofs could be covered with soft sheets of similar electricity-generating artificial-leaf solar cells.
"We do not want to over promise at this stage, as the devices are still of relatively low efficiency and there is a long way to go before this can become a practical technology," Velev says. "However, we believe that the concept of biologically inspired 'soft' devices for generating electricity may in the future provide an alternative for the present-day solid-state technologies."
 
Researchers from the Air Force Research Laboratory and Chung-Ang University in Korea co-authored the study. The study was funded by the Air Force Research Laboratory and the U.S. Department of Energy. The work is part of NC State's university wide nanotechnology program, Nano@NC State.
 
NC State's Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering is part of the university's College of Engineering.
 
 
Source: North Carolina State University
 
 
Printed, Organic & Flexible Electronics
Conductive Ink Markets 2014-2024
Portal
Webinars Generic Banner
Display Week

IDTechEx Reports

Organic Photovoltaics (OPV) 2013-2023: Technologies, Markets, Players
Organic Photovoltaics (OPV) 2013-2023: Technologies, Markets, Players
Dye Sensitized Solar Cells (DSSC/DSC) 2013-2023: Technologies, Markets, Players
Dye Sensitized Solar Cells (DSSC/DSC) 2013-2023: Technologies, Markets, Players
Thin Film Photovoltaics 2012-2022: Forecasts, Technologies, Analysis
Thin Film Photovoltaics 2012-2022: Forecasts, Technologies, Analysis
Barrier Layers for Flexible Electronics 2015-2025: Technologies, Markets, Forecasts
Barrier Layers for Flexible Electronics 2015-2025: Technologies, Markets, Forecasts
Printed, Organic & Flexible Electronics Forecasts, Players & Opportunities 2014-2024
Printed, Organic & Flexible Electronics Forecasts, Players & Opportunities 2014-2024
Transparent Conductive Films (TCF) 2014-2024: Forecasts, Markets, Technologies
Transparent Conductive Films (TCF) 2014-2024: Forecasts, Markets, Technologies
Energy Harvesting and Storage 2014-2024: Forecasts, Technologies, Players
Energy Harvesting and Storage 2014-2024: Forecasts, Technologies, Players
Internet of Things (IoT): Business Opportunities 2015-2025
Internet of Things (IoT): Business Opportunities 2015-2025
Wearable Technology 2014-2024: Technologies, Markets, Forecasts
Wearable Technology 2014-2024: Technologies, Markets, Forecasts
Electrochemical Double Layer Capacitors: Supercapacitors 2014-2024
Electrochemical Double Layer Capacitors: Supercapacitors 2014-2024
Printed Electronics for Healthcare, Cosmetics and Pharmaceuticals 2014-2024
Printed Electronics for Healthcare, Cosmetics and Pharmaceuticals 2014-2024
Smart Packaging Comes To Market: Brand Enhancement with Electronics 2014-2024
Smart Packaging Comes To Market: Brand Enhancement with Electronics 2014-2024
Introduction to Printed, Organic and Flexible Electronics
Introduction to Printed, Organic and Flexible Electronics
 
Energy Harvesting JournalElectric Vehicles Research