Electricity can be generated through many primary sources like coal,water,wind and solar energy etc,Even though,the sun provides plentiful source of energy on earth,very few of it is properly utilized and converted into useful energy.
With the increase in demand for electricity,the search for alternative energy sources also increased.Scientists meanwhile started exploring possible ways to produce more power from the existing methods.Producing power from Solar energy is one such area where the energy source is abundant,but lack proper storage techniques and thus,the energy is not used up to the mark.
In order to address this issue,researchers at the University of Georgia are developing a new technology that uses plants to generate electricity.The technique enables to harness solar energy for the use of sustainable electricity.
Usually,the conversion of sunlight into electricity is carried out using photovoltaic.It is a method that generates electrical power by changing solar radiation into direct current electricity with the help of semiconductors that exhibit the photovoltaic effect.This type of power generation engages solar panels formed by a number of solar cells which contain photovoltaic material.These solar panels operate at efficiency levels between 12 and 17 percent.
Its a known fact that plants uphold solar power.Operating with nearly 100 percent quantum efficiency,plants produce equal number of electrons for every photon of sunlight that it captures.Converting minimal amount of this energy into electricity would improve solar panels with good efficacy.
To achieve that capacity,plants undergo photosynthesis.Using sunlight,plants split the water atoms into hydrogen and oxygen,which produce electrons.These electrons are used to create sugars,which in turn feed plants.
“We have developed a way to interrupt photosynthesis so that we can capture the electrons before the plant uses them to make these sugars,” said Ramasamy, who is also a member of UGA’s Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center.
The new technology segregates structures in the plant cell called thylakoids.The thylakoids are responsible for capturing and storing energy from sunlight.By operating the proteins included in thylakoids,the researchers were able to disturb the photosynthesis pathway,along which electrons flow.
The scientists immobilized the modified thylakoids on a backing of carbon nano-tubes.These nano-tubes are cylindrical structures nearly 50,000 times finer than a human hair and act as an electrical conductor that could capture the elections from plant material and send them along a wire.
Though,this approach resulted in electrical current levels that are larger than the existing systems,the researchers believe that the technique needs to be refined and lot more work is yet to be done on this technique before it reaches commercialization.They already started working to improve the stability of the device.
In near future,we can use this technology to operate our portable electronic equipment that requires less power to run.No wonder if this technique competes with the conventional solar panels soon.