Plants make for a cheap solar cell

Wednesday, February 8, 2012 @ 09:02 AM
posted by rene5432

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed a way to create a solar power system using little more than broken down plants, according to CNET.

The technology is not exactly meant for residential solar power installations in the U.S., but it offers the possibility of creating a solar system with little more than a pile of grass clippings, some pre-packaged chemicals and a paint brush.

The researchers made use of a chemical known as photosystem-I, or PS-I, which is responsible for photosynthesis in plants. By pulling this chemical out of plants and attaching it a conductive surface, the group was able to create an extremely weak photovoltaic solar cell.

However, MIT News reports that the researchers found that by attaching the chemical to a layer of microscopic fibers of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide they could improve the efficiency of the solar power system and increase its lifetime.

Andreas Mershin, one of the key members of the group, noted that this technology, if brought to an efficiency of even 1 percent, could provide enough electricity for people around the world to charge cell phones or use electric lights for an extremely low cost.

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