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Moth Eyes: Research Advances On Efficient Solar Cells Inspired by Them

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motheye2Last year, we reported in an article how scientists discovered that the moth’s eyes could increase the efficiency of solar cells. Thanks to the super-transparent coatings, windows in homes and cars, computer screens and other consumer products could be improved. Now, new figures show the advances in this nature-mimicking technology.

“Nature is an amazing innovator,” Peng Jiang, an assistant professor of chemical engineering, said. “What I’m interested in doing is mimicking the structure of some remarkable biological systems for real-world use.”

Most moth eyes are composed of adjacent hexagonal sectors. Every sector is filled with nipple-like protrusions or thousands of orderly rows of miniscule bumps, this is the reason why the month eyes are so good at absorbing light. Though formed so perfectly they appear almost manufactured, each protrusion measures less than 300 nanometers, a size that renders them invisible to all but the most powerful electron microscopes.

“With most types of solar cells, you lose about one-third of the energy because the sunlight is simply reflected away,” according to Marie Kane at the Savannah lab.

But engineered coatings that mimic the way a moth’s eye absorbs light can reduce unwanted reflection from silicon solar cells from 30 percent to less than 2 percent. said that the coatings could also improve the performance of ordinary windows on homes or cars, reducing the need for cleaning and increasing visibility.

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