Introducing the Nanoflower, using Nature as Inspiration

The idea that science and technology uses the natural world (nature) as a template isn’t a novel one.

For example, Researchers in Madrid are using ant foraging behavior as an algorithm for speeding up search in social media. Dr. Prabhakar from Stanford even says, “Ants speak the language of the internet.” There are hundreds of ant species, each with its unique characteristics. He wonders how many other algorithms are yet to be discovered.

But, this post isn’t about ants.

In North Carolina State University, a new form of energy storage device has been created. This nanoflower is composed of germanium sulfide (a semiconductor material). The coolest part of the design is its simplicity. The layers of the flower allows a large amount of surface area to be created in a small area. Each sheet, petal of the flower, is only 20-30 nanometers thick and 100 micrometers long. The layering of the sheets can form different floral patterns (ex. marigold, carnation).

GeS is known its ability to absorb solar energy and convert it to a useable form of energy. It is also relatively cheap, which makes a difference on whether the technology can be used by the general public. Especially since many of the materials used in solar cells are expensive and toxic.

The developers of this technology claim that the nanoflower holds promise for the future. With the increasing requirement of utilizing sustainable energy, breakthroughs (no matter how big or small) are key. Plus, don’t they look so pretty?

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Ritika (@ritikaaaaar) is Indian, was raised in Thailand and currently studies Biology. She likes to dabble in a little of everything - she blogs, she's part of @passionproj, questions the mechanisms of the living world, and harbours a slight obsession with social media,, coffee, and Asian authors.