Engineers and artists gathered up to create Kirigami solar panels that twist and turn for the sun to provide the most efficient amount of energy with the least amount of pressure placed upon the roofs of residents.
Around 85% of solar panels installations are seen on residential rooftops across the United States, but that often come with bulky equipment and require quite a lot of space in order to fit the environmental option on your house.
Researchers at the University of Michigan, however, have found a way to provide excellent energy with a much lower need for reinforcements. They took inspiration from Kirigami, a Japanese art that is similar to the famous Origami, only it allows paper cutting in addition to the folding.
They constructed a unique design of solar panels, by finding the best pattern possible for a sheet of Kapton plastic with solar cells stuck to its surface. With a careful and slight cut into its thin texture, the energy-absorbing material would twist and stretch in order to capture as much sunlight as possible, following its angle to soak up the light.
According to Aaron Lamoureux, researcher and lead author of the study, this unique design takes the bulky and large solar panel’s job by condensing it into something that is flat, thin, and much lighter, around one tenth of the average panel in weight. With an added, important bonus in its efficiency.
Conventional, motorized solar panels absorb up to 40% more energy than their stationary counterparts, and the unique design is not that far behind it. The new Kirigami-inspired panels boost efficiency in comparison to the regular panels by 36%, which is incredibly close in spite of its much lighter design.
The motorized, conventional energy-absorbing devices are often expensive, bulky, and quite costly even in their installation, but the new design will certainly improve upon the burdening features that might turn some away from the energy-saving option. The small solar cells on the thin sheets can keep themselves more perpendicular to the sun’s rays with requiring the movement of the entire panel.
According to Max Shtein, an associate professor of engineering and material science, their concept design would essentially pose as no bigger challenge to install, but will “be doing something remarkable on a tiny scale” inside the house by shifting all its cells in unison.
The system is still in early development, and so far has remained as proof that it is possible, but there is need for more research and additions, such as an efficient casing to protecting the innovating technology.
Image source: thinkprogress.org