Insect eyes inspire new solar cell design at Stanford University

Updated 2017-09-03 10:00:58 Xinhua

A team of researchers at Stanford University has used an insect-inspired design to protect a fragile photovoltaic material called perovskite from deteriorating when exposed to heat, moisture or mechanical stress.

Perovskites are promising, low-cost materials that convert sunlight to electricity as efficiently as conventional solar cells made of silicon. However, the problem is that perovskites are extremely unstable and mechanically fragile.

While most solar devices, like rooftop panels, use a flat, or planar, design, that approach doesn't work well with perovskite solar cells.

"We were inspired by the compound eye of the fly, which consists of hundreds of tiny segmented eyes," explained Reinhold Dauskardt, a professor of materials science and engineering at Stanford and senior author of a study published in the journal Energy & Environmental Science (E&ES). "It has a beautiful honeycomb shape with built-in redundancy: If you lose one segment, hundreds of others will operate. Each segment is very fragile, but it's shielded by a scaffold wall around it."

Using the compound eye as a model, the researchers created a compound solar cell consisting of a vast honeycomb of perovskite microcells, each encapsulated in a hexagon-shaped scaffold just 0.02 inches, or 500 microns, wide.

"The scaffold is made of an inexpensive epoxy resin widely used in the microelectronics industry," graduate student Nicholas Rolston, a co-lead author of the study, was quoted as saying in a news release this week. "It's resilient to mechanical stresses and thus far more resistant to fracture."

Tests revealed that the scaffolding had little effect on how efficiently perovskite converted light into electricity.

In addition, to test against extreme conditions, the researchers exposed encapsulated perovskite cells to temperatures of 185 degrees Fahrenheit, or 85 degrees Celsius, and 85 percent relative humidity for six weeks, only to find that the cells continued to generate electricity at relatively high rates of efficiency.

Also in the News

Nicole Kidman Recalls Oscar Glory: Loneliest Time
Showbiz2016/06/16 13:58February 21 2018 13:27:29

Nicole Kidman Recalls Oscar Glory: Loneliest Time

Attending Shanghai International Film Festival, Nicole Kidman talks about her role in "Grace of Monaco".

Labor Day Travel Peak Starts
Also in the News2014/05/01 12:16February 21 2018 13:27:29

Labor Day Travel Peak Starts

Johnny Depp Delivers a Speech 'Evolve the Future' in 'Transcendence'
Also in the News2014/04/18 13:18February 21 2018 13:27:29

Johnny Depp Delivers a Speech 'Evolve the Future' in 'Transcendence'

Hollywood star Johnny Depp's speech in the upcoming new film "Transcendence" has been disclosed on Friday, April 11th.

Most Watched

News:
China World Business Sports Showbiz Audio
Video:
C4 My Chinese Life The Sound Stage China Revealed Showbiz Video Travel Video
Photos:
China World Fun Travel Entertainment Sports
Travel:
Beijing Shanghai Guangzhou
Lifestyle:
Live Music Opera & Classical Movies Traditional Shows Exhibitions
Learn Chinese:
Chinese Studio Living Chinese Everyday Chinese Just For Fun Chinese Culture Buzzwords