There is a major need for new forms of energy due to the overuse of natural resources today. Solar power has been one of the latest and newest forms of energy that engineers and scientists have been trying to harness. Today’s technology is effective yet has been proven to be very inefficient. There must be changes made to these panels in order to utilize solar energy much more effectively in order to protect the world’s natural resources.The purpose of this project is to come up with a solution to solve the inefficiency problem in solar panels that are used today. Our team is developing a solar panel in which we will utilize a thin-coated layer of a chemical substance called Melanin. We will look to take advantage of its photovoltaic properties in order to supplement the energy output of the solar cell. The system will use the same basic requirements for a solar cell but certain alterations will be made to the cell itself in order to implement the Melanin.
Solar panels are a growing industry in Energy Systems used around the world. However, these solar panels are very inefficient and also become less efficient as ambient temperatures become higher. Melanin is a complex polymer derived from the amino acid tyrosine and is also responsible for what gives an individual its skin and hair color. Melanin has electrical properties, binds tightly to metals, absorbs the entire wavelength spectrum of sunlight, and also resists high temperatures without decomposing. Implementing Melanin into solar panels will make them more efficient, based on preliminary research. Our goal is to utilize the technology of this polymer, Melanin, in order to create a solar cell with increased efficiency. The project will be constrained based on certain wavelengths of light as well as certain other environmental conditions. However, several experiments will be conducted with Melanin implemented into the solar cell and without, in order to have concrete data and come to a conclusion for this idea. Properties of Melanin lead us to believe that if meshed with current solar panel technology, a large increase in efficiency is highly plausible. Melanin also possesses properties of heat absorption, which may also work to control the temperature of the solar cells to increase their efficiency.
Link: Melanin absorbs the full spectrum of visible light from the sun as well as UV radiation. It possesses electrical properties as well as thermoelectric properties, which make this a top candidate when thinking of solar panels. Implementing Melanin will enhance their efficiency as well as the power generated from the solar panels. They will absorb the visible light that is not absorbed by the silicon as well as absorb the UV radiation, which is not absorbed by the silicon at all. Another advantage of implementing Melanin is that it has thermoelectric properties; this will also make solar panels more efficient when the weather conditions are very hot. Solar panels become less efficient when temperatures rise and with the Melanin implemented, this significant drop in efficiency should not be seen.
Problem Scale: Worldwide