This Graphene-Based Electrode Prototype Could Boost Solar Energy Storage Capacity By 3000 Percent

Posted: Apr 3 2017, 8:06am CDT | by , Updated: Apr 3 2017, 8:13am CDT, in News | Latest Science News

 
This Graphene-Based Electrode Prototype Could Boost Solar Energy Storage Capacity by 3000 Percent
PhD researcher Litty Thekkekara and Professor Min Gu with the western swordfern and the electrode prototype it inspired. Credit: RMIT University
  • Graphene-Based Electrode may enhance Solar Cell Power to the Max

A groundbreaking graphene-based electrode may enhance solar cell power to the max. It will up the super capacitor energy output by a whopping 3000%.

Researchers were inspired by an American fern plant and so they developed a technological prototype. This could be the answer to many of the problems associated with the storage capacity of solar cells. It is actually an electrode which could expand the storage capacity by 3000%.

It also paves the way for the development of flexible thin film all-round solar capture and storage. This will solve the issue of smartphones, laptops, vehicles and tenements, making them inherently self-powering.

This new electrode is made to work in synch with supercapacitors. These can charge and discharge power more quickly than normal run-of-the-mill batteries.

Supercapacitors have been combined with solar cells yet their wider use as storage solutions has been limited due to their small capacity.

The novel design imitates Mother Nature’s own superior solution to the fitting of space in the most efficient manner possible. This is through complex interlocking patterns known as fractals. Fractals play a large role in mathematics and chaos theory.

The leaves of the western swordfern are chock-a-block with veins. This makes this plant an ideal repository for water and energy. The electrode is based on these fractal-like pattern of veins in this type of fern.

They are self-replicating, like the mini-crystals in snowflakes which appear so beautiful. This natural means of storage by perfect design has been used on a nanoscale level to conserve capacity for tons of energy.

The first obvious idea which comes into mind is to combine this electrode with supercapacitors. This radically increases their storage capacity. These would thus be reliable over the long haul and provide quick burts of energy.

This would be ideal for anyone who wants to use solar energy at a time when the sky has clouds in it. The fractal-based, laser-reduced graphene electrodes could hold onto the charge for a long time with the least amount of wastage.

Energy harvesting and storage solutions have never gotten such an advancement as from the carrying out of this experiment which takes its cues from Nature. The current solar cells are large and unwieldy.

Those of the future could fit onto a microchip thanks to this novel technology. The technology is still in its nascent phases though and will take some more tweaking to reach the level where it could be commercially applicable.

The research was published in Nature journal Scientific Reports.

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