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: Researchers develop genetic blueprint for organelles that give simple cells new functions

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

FACT CHECK: Both sides in Keystone XL debate bend facts

8 hours ago

Supporters of the Keystone XL pipeline, which would run from Canada to the Gulf, say the privately funded, $8 billion project is a critically needed piece of infrastructure that will create thousands of jobs ...

Recommended for you

Detecting chemical weapons with a color-changing film

13 hours ago

In today's world, in which the threat of terrorism looms, there is an urgent need for fast, reliable tools to detect the release of deadly chemical warfare agents (CWAs). In the journal ACS Macro Letters, scient ...

Eyeglasses that turn into sunglasses—at your command

13 hours ago

Imagine eyeglasses that can go quickly from clear to shaded and back again when you want them to, rather than passively in response to changes in light. Scientists report a major step toward that goal, which ...

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.