Alternative energy: A new way to take a bite of sunlight

Oct 02, 2006

Flash those pearly whites in a dazzling smile and you showcase a natural light collector mechanism hidden inside the internal structure of dentin - the hard, bone-like material that forms the main part of teeth.

Scientists in Germany are reporting that the photonic crystal structure of dentin was their inspiration to propose a new method for harvesting sunlight to produce electricity.

Andrei P. Sommer and Michael Gente say tooth structure bears similarities to photonic crystals, which allow certain wavelengths to enter their internal structure, but block others. Applications of the effect include harvesting sunlight for photovoltaic cells.

"The light-collector mechanism in dentin could serve as a model for the design of solar concentrator arrays," the researchers write in their paper, published in the current (September/October) edition of the bimonthly ACS journal Energy & Fuels.

"Arrays of tooth-like structures mounted on silicon permit collection of sunlight virtually independent of the angle of incidence of the sun, which could be vital, for instance, in Antarctica."

Source: American Chemical Society

Explore further: Skin tough: study at Advanced Light Source shows why skin is resistant to tearing

Related Stories

Colombia transforms old tires into green housing

9 hours ago

The highlands around the Colombian capital are scattered with small buildings that look like out-of-place igloos but are in fact innovative houses made from the tires that litter the country's roads.

Cassini: Return to Rhea

9 hours ago

After a couple of years in high-inclination orbits that limited its ability to encounter Saturn's moons, NASA's Cassini spacecraft returned to Saturn's equatorial plane in March 2015.

LifePaint spray is Volvo's safety offer for cyclists

9 hours ago

For cyclists sharing the road at dark with cars and pedestrians, a useful motto is to stay safe by staying seen. Volvo, which continues to build on its brand of safety-first, has come out with LifePaint. ...

Recommended for you

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.