Many of our most important solar technologies are a direct outgrowth of the computer revolution.

Solar panels can be made with technology derived from computer chip production. Thin film also uses semiconductor principles, layering atoms on substrate to produce what amounts to a circuit.

But there has always been another way forward. Copying plants. Plants start the carbon cycle by using the Sun to power their everyday lives. It’s those lives we burn away when we use any type of fossil fuel – current lives (wood), or older lives (coal, gas, oil).

We cavemen who call ourselves civilized went through 10,000 years, rising from villages to globe-girdling urban environments, based entirely on burning dead plants.

Recently researchers with the Oak Ridge National Lab and Washington University in St. Louis used small-angle neutron scattering to analyze the structure of chlorosomes, plant structures that are efficient at collecting sunlight for conversion to energy, even in low-light and extreme environments.

Small-angle neutron scattering let the team clearly observe the complicated biological systems at a nanoscale level without damaging the samples. The aim was to tease out general principles for capturing, harvesting and transporting light efficiently in nature.

source: renewableenergyworld

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