Researchers at Pennsylvania State University are working to improve the design of solar cells by utilizing insect eyes as a model, specifically those of the common blowfly. Like all insects, the flies’ eyes are compound, meaning that there are many, individual macroscale eyes covering the surface of each larger eye. However, the particular shape of the blowflies’ eyes—a large hemisphere with numerous, smaller hexagonal-shaped eyes—appears to be an ideal design for improving the efficiency of solar cells. For this reason, the Penn scientists are using them as a model to develop biomimetic surfaces (surfaces that imitate the properties of biological tissues). Explains Akhlesha Lakhtakia, Godfrey Binder professor of engineering science and mechanics, “These eyes are perfect for making solar cells because they would collect more sunlight from a larger area rather than just light that falls directly on a flat surface.” The team has succeeded in producing template molds containing a limited number of blowfly corneas. Its next challenge will be to tile these templates together to form much larger surfaces, which can then be used to construct a new generation of solar cells.
Full story at EcoSeed.