MIT researchers make a breakthrough in solar energy

March 27, 2014 0 By Tami Hood

Researchers publish study focused on organic materials and their use in photovoltaic modules

Solar Energy BreakthroughResearchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have released a new study that shows that “living materials” can be used to conduct electricity and emit different colors of light. This new discovery could have major implications for the solar energy sector. The study exists as a proof of concept, allowing researchers to highlight the possible future uses of growing photovoltaic modules rather than having to manufacture these modules. The study suggests that a new era of highlight efficient solar panels may soon be dawning.

Research team uses nature as an example for their study

Researchers from MIT note that there are many biological examples of efficient energy production. Nature has managed to create proficient energy production systems using living materials, but humanity has not yet done so, preferring instead to use inorganic materials that are, at times, inordinately expensive. The research team has a goal of finding a way to engineer living materials so that they can be used to build more effective photovoltaic materials.

Engineered E. coli manages to help create an organic circuit

The research team focused their efforts on E. coli, which produces biofilms. These biofils produce networks of bacteria that can grow to cover surfaces and these networks have a unique way of communicating with one another in order to survive for prolonged periods of time. The team engineered a strain of E. coli to produce certain proteins on a particular surface that had been coated with gold nanoparticles. The study shows that bacteria were able to latch on to these gold nanoparticles and create a functioning circuit.

Breakthroughs in solar technology could help make renewable energy more cost effective

Finding ways to improve photovoltaic technology has become a very popular subject in the scientific community. Researchers from around the world have been working on ways to produce solar power more efficiently in order to help accommodate the growing demand for renewable energy. Solar energy has become one of the most popular forms of clean power in the world, but its adoption has been slowed by the continued use of expensive materials that go into making solar panels and similar technologies.