Scientists at the University of Southampton have developed a new generation of solar cells that imitate the ability of plants to turn sunlight into energy through photosynthesis.
The university’s School of Physics and Astronomy has been investigating a range of photovoltaic devices that use vegetative processes to harvest light for use as energy. The project is using nanotechnology to build nanoscale components that mimic the specific functions of photosynthesis molecules.
Led by Prof Pavlos Lagoudakis, the research could pave the way for more efficient solar cells that are able to generate a greater amount of electrical current.
Prof Lagoudakis said: ‘We looked at the ways that energy is funnelled in nature and through reverse engineering, using multiple nanoscale components, we designed and fabricated a hybrid photovoltaic device that can absorb light and efficiently convert it to electric current. These are early days, but the possibilities for the application of this technology for environmentally friendly energy production are very exciting.’