The researchers studied the butterfly wings, using them as molds or templates. They made copies of the butterflies’ solar collectors, and transferred the light-harvesting structures to classic Grätzel (or dye-sensitized) cells. In fact, the new solar cells acted more efficiently in getting the solar power than the conventional dye-sensitized ones, that have about 10% efficiency. Even the manufacturing process is faster and simpler than previously thought.
The new butterfly-inspired solar cells could start a revolution in making those energy converters affordable to almost anyone, and the energy cheaper than ever.
Once again, nature is the source of inspiration for the scientists’ ideas. The airplane imitation of birds is another great example of simple, natural ingenuity. What’s to come next? There’s so much to learn about in nature…
update 13.02.09: more details here