Many PV researchers are attempting to fabricate optimal structures for light capture. Researchers at Oregon State University (OSU) are using a structure that has been in development for hundreds of millions of years, diatoms.

Diatoms are a class of phytoplankton that have a unique cell wall made of silica. The distinctive idea that researchers at OSU had was to incorporate TiO2 (titanium dioxide) into the intricate cell walls of these organisms and utilize the structures in dye sensitized solar cells for enhanced light capture. It is claimed that there are some promising results.

I found this idea interesting because it incorporates an existing, complex structure that nature has already created. It may be worth looking at what is already “out there” instead of trying to reinvent the wheel.

Pinnularia, a species of diatom

All the best,

Yousef Alattar

(Electrical Engineering, MASc, Year 2 at Dalhousie University)

References

1) Jeffryes, Clayton, Timothy Gutu, Jun Jiao, and Gregory L. Rorrer. “Metabolic Insertion of Nanostructured TiOinto the Patterned Biosilica of the Diatom Pinnularia Sp. by a Two-Stage Bioreactor Cultivation Process.” ACS Nano 2.10 (2008): 2103-112. Print.

2) http://www.eetimes.com/electronics-news/4082686/Diatoms-could-triple-solar-cell-efficiency

3) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Pinnularia_Teilung.jpg

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