The Nature Bible

New Frontiers

Invention · Travel

Flower power



Sunflower-influenced solar panels could harvest 400% more energy


Inspired by nature, researchers from the University of California Los Angeles and Arizona State University have developed innovative 'stems' of a material which reacts to light, bending towards the source with an energy harvesting 'flower' at the top.


Mimicking 'phototropism' when living organisms track light sources and stop moving when alignment is achieved, as the shaded underside of the Sunbot's stem panel cools, it stops the device in a position that's optimally absorbs light and it continues to shift during the day as the angle of sunlight changes. Researchers tested a panel of each 1mm -wide Sunbot with and without this movement technology and discovered that those with the special material stems were able to harvest up to 400% more solar energy, which should make significant impacts across a number of energy and environmental solutions.