Technology Inspired by Nature: Symbiotic Relationships
Symbiotic relationships are nothing new in nature. For example in our stomach are loads of bacteria living there in a symbiotic relationship with us. We give them a safe place to live and food, they help with our digestion. Now that idea is being applied to technology:
(Observer (UK) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Researchers at MIT have come up with an ingenious method of reducing inefficiency in solar cells. When sunlight is absorbed by a traditional solar cell, it triggers the release of electrons that can be harnessed to create an electric current – although some electrons elude capture. Carbon nanotubes have been used to channel them towards their destination, the electrode, but nanotubes tend to bunch together, creating the risk of short circuits. Using a virus called M13, which normally infects bacteria, the team led by Angela Belcher at MIT have been able to keep the nanotubes separate, increasing energy conversion by nearly one-third. They claim the technique can also be applied to organic and quantum-dot solar cells.