This American Fern Inspired Groundbreaking Electrode Could Increase Solar Storage By 3000%

Posted: Apr 17 2017, 4:22am CDT | by , in News | Latest Science News

This American Fern Inspired Groundbreaking Electrode Could Increase Solar Storage by 3000%
The breakthrough electrode prototype (right) can be combined with a solar cell (left) for on-chip energy harvesting and storage. Credit: RMIT University
  • Novel Electrode may increase Solar Energy Capacity by a Whopping 3000%

A novel graphene-based electrode may increase solar energy capacity by a whopping 3000%. This would release a revolution in sunlight storage.

The latest technology is a case of art copying life. Taking plant life as a source of inspiration, the researchers have made a new electrode that boosts our solar energy storage capacity by 3000%.

This is quite a big improvement on previous records set for energy storage. This technology is an agile one and can be affixed to solar cells with ease.

What this means is that we may be onto something here. In the future, smartphones and laptops that will be powered by solar energy may be the order of the day.

Such smartphones and laptops will have the added advantage that they will never lack an energy supply. One of the main issues with solar storage is having the stored energy leaking over a period of time.

For this alone, the scientists have turned to the wonderful world of supercapacitors. These devices charge extremely quickly and release energy in short sharp bursts. However, supercapacitors are not up to the mark as solar storage devices.

So a team of researchers decided to look deeper into the process whereby living things manage to fit in so much energy into their storage organs. The fractal-based leaves of a North American plant – the western swordfern – were studied.

The leaves of this plant are filled with veins. Thus they store energy and can transport water to various parts of the plant with great efficiency.

The electrode designed by the experts is based on the shape of fractals. Fractals are tiny self-replicating structures that are found in Nature and their study forms a fundamental part of the field of modern mathematics.

Solar energy storage at the scale of nanotechnology is what the researchers aimed for. Scientists used lasers to tease apart graphene molecules. The graphene formed a one-atom thick layer that conducted electricity very quickly and efficiently.

The team of researchers achieved 30% higher energy storage capacity. Once this technology is successfully applied in the proper manner, we can see solar cells hooked up with superconductors to give upto 3000% higher storage capacity. This would be just ideal.

Energy harvesting and storage facility on a microchip is what the experts have among their plans for the future times. If this sort of technology becomes a viable alternative in the times to come, we could get rid of cumbersome batteries in our smartphones and laptops.

The research is published in the journal Scientific Reports.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/20" rel="author">Sumayah Aamir</a>
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