After coming up with the idea of a solar cell “tree,” I decided to do some preliminary research into the subjects of artificial photosynthesis, artificial (but fully functional) leaves, new solar cell technology, and any relevant nanotechnology.
I particularly like Popular Science magazine, so I browsed the technology section on their website. I found several articles, all of which were highly interesting and relevant to the idea of a solar cell “tree.”
- Nanoparticles + Water + Sunlight = Boiling Water (steam energy)
- Ultra-Hydrophobic Material
- Heat-Seeking Solar Panels
- Glitter-Sized Solar Panels (another article here)
- Panasonic’s Artificial Photosynthesis
- Solar Cells Made Out of Grass Clippings
- Space-Based Solar Power
- Solar Panels in the Suburbs
- Bio-Inspired Designs
- MIT’s Artificial Leaf
- Solar Power in Deserts
- Solar Cells from Jellyfish
- MIT’s Self-Assembling Solar Cells
- Artificial Photosynthesis
- IBM’s High-Efficiency Solar Cells
- Photovoltaic Cell that Powers Itself
- Engineered Tobacco Plants Grow Synthetic Solar Cells
- Solar Village
Also, after yesterday’s class, I put some more thought into the design of the solar cell tree. If it would be possible to make it portable — like a small-scale version in a small flower pot — it could be possible to use the solar energy on a small-scale level, such as a charging device (i.e. for batteries, cell phones, laptops, etc.). Such a device could produce electricity via artificial photosynthesis, harvesting of sunlight, and converting this energy into useful electricity. I have yet to figure out how this conversion process would work, but I think it’s possible with a bit of engineering.
My next step is to read through these articles I found and use them to further develop this idea. I would also like to make an interdisciplinary connection for this project. Maybe an aesthetically pleasing solar cell tree would be relevant to interior design (art, right?) — so the connection would be between design/art and chemistry/engineering/ecology?