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Bugs and Solar Power

| On 12, May 2011

For those of you who don’t read the magazine DISCOVER, I want to pass on to you another great example of problems in parallel universes. Several years ago, work started within the TRIZ community to see if the basic principles of TRIZ could also be identified as being used in nature and many of these were captured in a wonderful paperback called “Natural Innovation”. This is now out of print but is apparently available used from Amazon and other retailers.

With our drive to increaes the efficieincy of solar cells, we might revisit the question of how the solar efficiency is lost. If none of the solar eneergy was reflected back, that would be a good start, right? Well, where else is it important not to reflect light back? In the June issue of Discover maagazine, p14, there is a wonderful article on “What Bugs Can Teach Us About Solar Power”. It describes, for example, the deep black interior of the inner eye of a moth as one of the least reflective surfaces in nature and responsible for the moth’s senstive night vision. It also minimizes reflections wthat could signal its presence to a predator. Engineers in Japan apparently used a mold to replicate this nanoscale structure , applied it as an acrylic film to a solar cell, increasing its efficiency by 6%.

Gives you pause for thought, doesn’t it? How long have moths been around? Why does it take us this long to look for where the problem of total light absorption is a matter of life and eath that’s been a subject of evolution for billions of years?

Give you