Hierarchical Design & Solar Panels: A World Economic Forum Discussion – in this 3-min video clip Caltech materials scientist Julia Greer explains how hierarchical design can help create very light-weight materials – “up to 99% air, but that yet retain the high stiffness and high strength of their parent material.” As an example of an application of these nano-scale ultra-light materials, she ties their development to the viable production of highly efficient solar cells. Via Box and Dice (thanks, Victoria!).
For more on hierarchical design and Julia Greer’s work at Caltech see the Greer Group, and Materials with controlled microstructural architecture: Energy sciences and structural applications on research into Hierarchical Design of Architected Materials:
One of the major limitations in the development of current energy technology is the lack of advanced materials suitable for energy applications. We have already reached the limits in the capabilities of bulk materials for applications in fields like thermoelectrics, solar cells, and structural materials. With the advent of micro and nanoscale fabrication techniques, we have been able to make great advances many of these critical areas of energy technology.
The opening photo (here, above, with the dandelion) comes from the Hierarchical Design page and is accompanied by this text:
A hollow nickel-phosphorus micro-truss is the lowest density structure ever made. Read the Science report here. Photo by Dan Little, HRL Laboratories LLC.