Butterfly wings to inspire new solar power technology

Butterfly wings could be used to inspire new technology in solar cells. According to researchers at the ANU who said that “filtering” light could be a feature of future solar projects.

From the rare Peruvian butterfly which has wings featuring tiny nanostructures which “scatter light to create a striking blue iridescence. Similar man-made nanostructures could also be used to finely control the direction of light in further experiments.

“There’s a whole bunch of potential new applications using this technique” Lal said in a statement last Wednesday.

“Reflection and absorption of different colors of light are being used in the next generation of very high-efficiency solar panels.”

“Techniques to finely control the scattering and absorption of different colors of light are being used in the next generation.

The aim of these experiments was to absorb all of the blue, green and ultraviolet colors of sunlight in the “perovskite” layer of a solar cell, and all of the red, orange and yellow light in the “silicon” layer, known as a tandem solar cell with double-decker layers.

He said perfecting this technique could open the door to applications in architecture. Whereby windows could filter certain colors of light, and stealth, such as by making opaque objects transparent to certain colors.

“We were surprised by how well our tiny cone-shaped structures worked,” Lal said.

“Using our approach, a window could be designed to be transparent to some colours non-see through and matte textured for others. These are very cool potential applications in architecture.”