Feeds

Chlorophyll inspires Aussies in quest for green power

Seeking efficient solar cells

Application security programs and practises

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. ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
Just TWO climate committee MPs contradict IPCC: The two with SCIENCE degrees
'Greenhouse effect is real, but as for the rest of it ...'
BEST BATTERY EVER: All lithium, all the time, plus a dash of carbon nano-stuff
We have found the Holy Grail (of batteries) - boffins
Asteroid's DINO KILLING SPREE just bad luck – boffins
Sauricide WASN'T inevitable, reckon scientists
Flamewars in SPAAACE: cooler fires hint at energy efficiency
Experiment aboard ISS shows we should all chill out for cleaner engines
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
Famous 'Dish' radio telescope to be emptied in budget crisis: CSIRO
Radio astronomy suffering to protect Square Kilometre Array
prev story

Whitepapers

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.
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.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.