We just reported on the breakthrough in solar dyes in New Zealand. Now, researchers in Italy have discovered that blueberries have natural pigments that absorb sunlight extremely well. Apparently, dark-colored berries outperform most other plant species when it comes to spectral absorption of sunlight. The blueberry pigment, called, anthocyanine, can be used to make dye-sensitized solar cells, which require no silicon to make.
Extraction of the pigment is accomplished through a fairly simple and quick procedure involving chemical purification, according to Professor Di Carlo in the Department of Electronic Engineering at the University of Rome Tor Vergata.
“At the moment, the use of natural dyes in solar cells is quite compelling because it demonstrates that with simple, organic ingredients, one can create electrical power from sunlight,” Di Carlo said.
Di Carlo acknowledges that the power conversion efficiencies achieved thus far by solar dyes fabricated with organic ingredients are considerably lower than the efficiencies achieved with optimized synthetic molecules. Existing silicon-based solar panels achieve an efficiency rate of roughly 15 percent, whereas solar panels made with blueberries achieve only 1 percent efficiency today. By using synthetic dyes, efficiency rates of 10 percent or more can be achieved.
So the research continues. And indeed, there appears to be more and more research activity under way worldwide each year involving innovative hybrid devices infused not only with fruit pigments, but also with chlorophyll, according to Di Carlo.
Via: Bangor Daily News