As the world tends to run out of resources generating electricity, this tidbit seems to find a way to overcome this crisis. Researchers from the North Carolina State University suggest that water-gel-based solar devices like ‘artificial leaves’ are capable of acting akin solar cells to produce electricity. This newly identified approach appears to be affordable and more environment friendly as compared to the present day standard-bearer silicon-based solar cells.
Bendable devices are known to encompass water-based gel infused with light-sensitive molecules. Researchers utilized plant chlorophyll in one of the experiments. This chlorophyll was combined together with electrodes coated by carbon materials, like carbon nanotubes or graphite. Scientists assume that light-sensitive molecules get hyper by the sun’s rays to produce electricity. This process may be very much alike the plant molecules that get excited to synthesize sugars for growing.
“We do not want to overpromise at this stage, as the devices are still of relatively low efficiency and there is a long way to go before this can become a practical technology. However, we believe that the concept of biologically inspired ‘soft’ devices for generating electricity may in the future provide an alternative for the present-day solid-state technologies,” remarked NC State’s Dr. Orlin Velev, Invista Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and lead investigator.
It was elucidated that synthetic light-sensitive molecules can also be employed, but naturally occurring material such as chlorophyll quickly merge in devices due to their water-gel matrix. Further experiments will be commenced to mimic the self-regenerating mechanisms discovered in plants. Experts will be trying to alter the water-based gel and light-sensitive molecules to boost the ability of solar cells.
The findings are published online in the Journal of Materials Chemistry.