Plants are excellent at harnessing solar power, so it only makes sense that scientists would eventually study them for hints on how to develop more efficient photovoltaic devices. Chemists at the University of Massachusetts Amherst are doing exactly that–they have figured out a way to build PV devices inspired by the photosynthetic processes of plants. According to UMass, the researchers recently demonstrated how PV devices can be built using dendrimers–organic molecules based on plant anatomy. Branches in the dendrimers allow them to absorb photons from a large area. The energy from the photons is then sent to the dendrimer’s core, where it is subsequently connected to a polymer “wire.” Electrons move down the wire to an electrode that produces energy.
The research won’t be used for commercial applications for a long time, but the UMass chemists believe that eventually it could be used to make light, ultra-efficient photovoltaic devices. Because, as usual, nature provides the best inspiration for our advanced technology.