The wings of a butterfly have inspired a new type of solar cell that can harvest light twice as efficiently as before and could one day improve our solar panels.
Solar panels are usually made of thick solar cells, and are positioned at an angle to get the most amount of light from the sun as it moves throughout the day. Thin film solar cells, which can be only nanometers thick, have a lot of potential. These are cheaper and lighter, but because they’re less efficient, we usually use them only in watches and calculators, instead of solar panels.
Scientists studied the black wings of the rose butterfly, and copied the structure to create thin solar cells that are more efficient. Unlike other types of cells, these can absorb a lot of light regardless of the angle, and are also easy to make.