Scientists in the US are taking inspiration from the compound eyes of insects to devise a way to pack tiny solar cells together in order to develop more efficient photovoltaic devices.
In the study, a team from Stanford University has looked to the micro-lenses that form the geodesic domes of the robber fly’s compound eyes. Their work points to a way to build powerful photovoltaics from the otherwise fragile photovoltaic material perovskite that would preclude from deterioration caused by heat and moisture exposure or mechanical stress. [Dauskardt et al., Energy Environ Sci (2017; DOI: 10.1039/C7EE02185B].
“Perovskites are promising, low-cost materials that convert sunlight to electricity as efficiently as conventional solar cells made of silicon, explains Reinhold Dauskardt.”The problem is that perovskites are extremely unstable and mechanically fragile. They would barely survive the manufacturing process, let alone be durable long term in the environment.” He points out that conventional solar panels that one might see on a rooftop are planar in design, but brittle, salt-like perovskites need a rethink if they are to become viable materials for solar energy conversion.