Lotus leaf is famous for its self-cleaning properties. Researchers from the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev have applied these properties to solar panels to increase efficiency and light absorption.
Solar panels, often pile on high amounts of dust in outdoor settings. This dust adhesion is a significant challenge as it affects photovoltaic cells and subsequent thermal collection. Additionally, in large dessert landmass of countries like Israel, this results in much higher potential harm.
This worry is what drove the researchers from Nagev to observe Lotus leaves in nature more closely. The researchers noted that the lotus leaf remains pathogen, and dust-free during its operation as its nano-textured surface, and a thin wax makes way for repulsion of water. This observation led them to study the effects of a silicon substrate to mimic the self-cleaning properties of the lotus leaf. This silicon surface, a semiconductor, reduces the friction between the surface and water droplets. The research team tried various surfaces to remove dust adhesion. It eventually gave them a satisfying 98% particle removal rate. The superhydrophobic Si-based nanotextured covers triumphed in the final trial.
Commercial Application of Solar Panels
The new findings are likely to boost the commercial application of solar panels. Cleaning solar panels earlier often proved extremely labor-intensive due to the dust accumulation. Moreover, the new findings also found a critical link to reducing the water adhesion.
Furthermore, the team discovered that water adhesion reduces with using an atomic force microscope. The new finding can reduce water adhesion with a factor of 30, a result that can pave for innovation in other applications.
Discoveries like these keep making way for more affordable and sustainable solar energy applications. Recent studies have also figured out ways to reduce water usage for electricity generation with the help of new tools. These studies promise a bright ray of hope for millions devoted to a sustainable future.