Butterfly Solar Cell Technology in Germany

Butterfly solar technology – Researchers at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany have managed to double the amount of energy solar panels convert to energy by studying the nanostructures of black butterfly wings.

How does it work?

Radwan Siddique at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology was reading about butterfly wings whilst researching a technique for building 3d nanostructures. “I was so intrigued that I literally went to a lot of butterfly nurseries and gathered several butterflies,” Siddique told Seeker. “The black butterfly was one of them. I was putting them under SEM (a scanning electron microscope) and looking at the structures.” 

Although the openings on the black butterfly’s wings are less than a millionth of a metre wide, the latticed nanostructures they’re made of scatter light and are able to help the butterfly absorb more of the sun’s heat, helping the butterfly (a cold-blooded insect) regulate its body temperature and fly in cool weather. 

Butterfly Solar
Butterfly Solar – Scanning electron microscope image of bio-inspired nanoholes (source: seeker.com via Radwanul Siddique, KIT)

Butterfly Solar Cells – Production

According to Science Advances on October 18, when the findings were published, the “nanopatterned absorbers achieve a relative integrated absorption increase of 90% at a normal incident angle of light to as high as 200% at large incident angles, demonstrating the potential of black butterfly structures for light-harvesting purposes in thin-film solar cells.”

Siddique and his colleagues used a sheet of hydrogenated amorphous silicon in an attempt to copy the structure of the black butterfly wings. When they used a layer of polymer with circular indentations of different sizes, and transferred it to a silicon base, they were able to produce the solar power at a high efficiency using a thin film, as opposed to standard crystal based cells. Some potential uses for these thin-film solar cells could be the incorporation into solar windows or other structures that wouldn’t work well with the crystal-based solar cells. 

The cells are also quick and easy to create – “the way we produce the structure is so simple,” Siddique says, “We need just 5 minutes to 10 minutes to make the nanostructures on a six-inch wafer of silicon.” The butterfly creates these nanostructures by combining proteins to cause a chemical interaction. Siddique’s team created artificial versions of these proteins to manufacture their butterfly solar cells – which are cheap and scalable.

Still early days yet, but it’ll be exciting to see how ‘butterfly solar’ stacks up against other emerging solar tech such as perovskite solar cells

 

 

Solar Cell Windows for sale in Asia

Some amazing technology out of Asia pioneered by Asahi Glass has windows with solar cells embedded in them being offered to the global market. These solar cell windows will be marketed to developers worldwide, with a focus on Australia and Oceania.

Asahi Glass Solar Cell Windows

This technology isn’t new (it has been offered to the Japanese market since 2000), but is experiencing a resurgence as Asahi are preparing the product for export. The windows will be offered for developers to implement as part of construction packages in order to help meet Asia’s rapidly growing renewable power needs.

The solar cell windows can generate 2-4 watt hours per square 15.6cm per side, depending on design. The plan is to sell Sunjoule to construction projects in Australia and the rest of Oceania – they’ve already installed in Cambodia, Singapore, and Hong Kong where they have set up shop to target European and US property developers who want to add unique and eco-friendly functionality to their building designs. They also plan to start producing these energy-conserving solar cell windows/glass in 2018 in Indonesia, according to Nikkei.com. Here’s an article from Inhabitat talking about the ‘nanosolar‘ thin and flexible solar cell coating which is utilised in the panels.

About Asahi

Asahi Glass Co Solar Cell Windows Australia
Asahi Glass Co Solar Cell Windows

Asahi are a global glass manufacturing company who offer myriad products such as heated windshields and 3d curved cover glass for car mounted displays. They turned over $12.8 billion USD in the 2013 financial year and have 51,500 consolidated employees so they are a major player in the industry. According to Wikipedia they are one of the largest flat glass producing companies in the world.

Asahi India Glass Ltd. (AIS) – who are an Indian affiliate of the company – also offer a mobile app called ‘AIS – World Of Glass’ for end users and partners to gain a deeper insight and experience into their portfolio of glass offerings. Click here for iOS and here for Android if you’d like to give it a try!  We’ll be interested to see how much the solar panel technology increases over the coming months and years and how Asahi are able to improve and enhance their offering – solar cell windows are a great innovation and it’ll be interesting to see how quickly the technology is picked up worldwide and how competitors react to this product.