Wednesday, April 4, 2012

You’re Looking at a Solar Panel



Tongxiang Fan and his colleagues at Shanghai’s Jiao Tong University examined butterfly wings under an electron microscope and discovered that butterfly wings excell in capturing heat (link). The wings are in two layers. The first is formed of rectangular and overlaid panels; this surface communicates with a second by very small holes, directing the heat downward. Thus the butterfly captures and holds heat. Nature seems always a step ahead of us when it comes to intelligent design. Little did we know, raising our Black Swallowtail butterflies, that we were participating in the solar energy industry—a few species away. We saw the butterfly I show at the Butterfly Conservatory in Key West, Florida. — Oh, yes. Dr. Fan and colleagues are also building a prototype sun-capturing device for humans based on the "butterfly technology"; in time it may be part of our lives too.

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