Flowers, such as sunflower, have the natural ability to turn towards the sun for maximum energy capture. Taking inspiration from nature a team of researchers at the North Carolina State University have developed an innovative “nanoflower” structure using germanium sulfide that promises to better the credentials of solar panels while making them a lot more affordable.
The “nanoflowers” have ultrathin petals that offer a large surface area for energy generation in a small space. For creating the flower-like structures, the team first heated GeS powder in a furnace to vaporize it, the vapors were then blown into a cooler region of the furnace where they settle into a layered sheet, forming flower-like structure similar to carnation or marigold with additional layers causing the sheets to branch out from one another.
Germanium sulfide is quite an attractive material for use in solar cells because it’s inexpensive and non-toxic. The research could not only better solar cells but also increase the capacity of lithium-ion batteries allowing a thinner structure to hold more ions.