Feeds

Chlorophyll inspires Aussies in quest for green power

Seeking efficient solar cells

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

Researchers in Australia have developed technology that could pave the way for highly efficient solar cells.

The team, from the Molecular Electronics Group at the University of Sydney, has created molecules that mimic the systems plants use for photosynthesis.

Researcher Deanna D'Alessandro explains the botanical inspiration for the work, describing leaves as "amazingly cheap and efficient solar cells".

"The best leaves can harvest 30 to 40 per cent of the light falling on them," she says. "The best solar cells we can build are between 15 and 20 per cent efficient, and expensive to make."

During photosynthesis (a process by which plants convert sunlight into useable chemical energy) light is collected by wheel-shaped arrays of molecules called porphyrins. Porphyrins are ring-shaped organic molecules. Chlorophyll is essentially a porphyrin surrounding a central magnesium ion.

Chlorophyll is the green pigment in plants responsible for absorbing energy from sunlight. A complex series of reactions in the leaf then uses this energy to transfer electrons from water to carbon dioxide, forming sugar along the way, with oxygen as a by-product. The porphyrin ring is the principal structure in capturing the energy.

"We have been able to construct synthetic porphyrins," D'Alessandro explains. "More than 100 of them can be assembled around a tree-like core called a dendrimer to mimic the wheel-shaped arrangement in natural photosynthetic systems.

"Since they are so efficient at storing energy, we think they could also be used as batteries, replacing the metal-based batteries that our high technology devices depend on today," she adds.

Although the work is still at an early stage, the team is optimistic about its potential.

The researchers are now working with collaborators at Osaka University to combine them into a synthetic equivalent of a plant cell. If this stage is successful, they plan to scale up the technology to commercial scale solar panels over the next five years. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Boffins attempt to prove the UNIVERSE IS JUST A HOLOGRAM
Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?
Our LOHAN spaceplane ballocket Kickstarter climbs through £8000
Through 25 per cent but more is needed: Get your UNIQUE rewards!
Software bug caught Galileo sats in landslide, no escape from reality
Life had just begun, code error means Russia's gone and thrown it all away
LOHAN tunes into ultra long range radio
And verily, Vultures shall speak status unto distant receivers
NASA to reformat Opportunity rover's memory from 125 million miles away
Interplanetary admins will back up data and get to work
SpaceX prototype rocket EXPLODES over Texas. 'Tricky' biz, says Elon Musk
No injuries or near injuries. Flight stayed in designated area
Galileo, Galileo! Galileo, Galileo! Galileo fit to go. Magnifico
I'm just a poor boy, nobody loves me. But at least I can find my way with ESA GPS by 2017
prev story

Whitepapers

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup
Learn why inSync received the highest overall rating from Druva and is the top choice for the mobile workforce.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.