Artificial Sunflowers that Act as Solar Panels

Sunflowers in a field all bending towards the sun

Artificial Sunflowers that Act as Solar Panels

Solar panels are the wave of the future. They capture the sun’s energy and transfer it to the station, allowing people to use the stored energy at any time. Photovoltaic panels capture the sunlight overhead and change it into energy in real-time. This is a great technology, but static solar panels can only capture the sun if it is at a 90-degree angle to the panels. Lesser angle degrees mean lesser amounts of stored energy.

Solar Technology that Moves

Rotating solar panels can capture up to 40% more sun per day than static panels. Some rotating panels are now in the form of a flower, science imitating nature. Flowers rotate to face the sun to make more chlorophyll, food for the flower. As bees like warm flowers to gather pollen, the flowers face the sun to warm their reproductive parts as well.

Science Mimics Nature

Smart flowers mimic the heliotropism of sunflowers as they face the sun as it tracks across the sky each day. These flower-shaped solar panels open at sunrise, track the sun all day and close at night, or in high wind conditions. As they follow the sun, they gather 40% more energy efficient than traditional panels. This flower is portable and can be installed anywhere. Sunflowers track the sun when they are babies to maximize their growth. Mature sunflowers stay facing east so the morning sun warms them to attract bees.

Another Sunflower-Inspired Technology

Scientists have now created another technology that mimics the heliotropic movement of sunflowers, but this time they’re minuscule, less than a millimeter wide. These tiny devices, called sunBOTs (sunflower-like biomimetic omnidirectional trackers), bend toward the sun in response to changes in temperature or light intensity. It converts the light into heat causing the polymer to shrink, thus bending it toward full light. During testing, they placed strands that bend and strands that stayed straight, next to each other to measure the amount of sunlight captured by each type. The bending strands harvested 400% more sun than the straight ones!

SunBOTS

A sunBOT looks like a tiny stem with a light-catching “flower” on top. The stem is made of a strand of polymer embedded with a nanomaterial that absorbs light and turns it into heat. The polymer bends toward the light because of the polymer shrinking in response to the heat thereby pointing the flower toward the light. As the polymer cools, it moves again to adjust with the movement of the sun.

The Possibilities Are Endless

As the sunBOTs are so small and can be configured in numerous ways, there are endless possibilities for what they will be able to do. Researchers say they could enhance solar harvesters, and be useful in robotics, surgery, smart windows and much, much more.

Call Sol-Up for the Latest Solar Technology

As sunBOTs can follow the sun, they could be used in the future optimization of solar panels, making them even more efficient than they are today. Sol-up is on the cutting edge of solar panel technology and a leader in residential solar panel installation. Call us today or visit our showroom and let us show you all the newest ways you can start saving money on your energy bill!

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