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Biotech Power Science

Self-Assembling Photovoltaic Tech From MIT 128

Posted by Soulskill
from the bright-ideas dept.
telomerewhythere writes "Michael Strano and his team at MIT have made a self-assembling and indefinitely repairable photovoltaic cell based on the principle found in chloroplasts inside plant cells. 'The system Strano's team produced is made up of seven different compounds, including the carbon nanotubes, the phospholipids, and the proteins that make up the reaction centers, which under the right conditions spontaneously assemble themselves into a light-harvesting structure that produces an electric current. Strano says he believes this sets a record for the complexity of a self-assembling system. When a surfactant is added to the mix, the seven components all come apart and form a soupy solution. Then, when the researchers removed the surfactant, the compounds spontaneously assembled once again into a perfectly formed, rejuvenated photocell.'"
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Self-Assembling Photovoltaic Tech From MIT

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  • Re:Green goo? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Khyber (864651) <techkitsune@gmail.com> on Tuesday September 07, 2010 @05:44AM (#33496312) Homepage Journal

    "The article doesn't answer the question of how much energy is needed to remove the surfactant."

    However much it takes to push it through the filter membrane, per the article.

  • by martin-boundary (547041) on Tuesday September 07, 2010 @06:33AM (#33496468)

    This is /., you have to say "Infringe the copyright of some nanos for my female instance".

    FAIL. She's not his female instance, she's a derived class.

  • real source (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 07, 2010 @07:07AM (#33496580)
  • by jellomizer (103300) on Tuesday September 07, 2010 @07:28AM (#33496644)

    Are they smarter then us. No but many are more evolved then us. Plants have been around evolving on land much longer then the first bug left the oceans. They are quite adapted to their environment. Now humans and mammals are not so evolved but our evolutionary path took a different way where a more organized central nervice system took presendance over energy gathering.

  • by IndustrialComplex (975015) on Tuesday September 07, 2010 @07:40AM (#33496686)

    No but many are more evolved then us. Plants have been around evolving on land much longer then the first bug left the oceans. They are quite adapted to their environment. Now humans and mammals are not so evolved but our evolutionary path took a different way where a more organized central nervice system took presendance over energy gathering.

    That's not quite the best description of evolution. It isn't a race to some endpoint, there really isn't much that can be classified as 'less evolved or more evolved' unless you slice the requirements so thin that only one organism could survive based on such criteria and therefore make the whole concept of evolution meaningless. Let's say a landslide washes a very niche species of plant into the ocean where the saline content promptly kills the entire species. Does that make a salmon more evolved since it didn't die?

    And for that matter, unless we assume some multiple genesis theory for life on Earth, every species today has been subject to evolutionary forces for the exact length of time as any other species.

  • Re:WTF? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 07, 2010 @07:55AM (#33496756)

    Phospholipids are little cute guys that make up your cellular membrane (a phospholipid bi-layer). They look something like this (in as much justice as ascii can do):

    o=;

    They have a phosphate head (that's the round bit) with two lipid tails, one saturated fat, and one unsaturated fat.

    The phosphate side is hydrophilic (it likes water) and the lipid side is hydrophobic (doesn't like water). So a whole bunch of them will collect together tail-to-tail and side-to-side to make your semi-permeable cellular membrane.

  • by Geoffrey.landis (926948) on Tuesday September 07, 2010 @09:05AM (#33497116) Homepage

    Now all we need is to mimic Chlorophyll F and start capturing everything from beginning IR (720nm) on down. I'd love to see a solar cell that can respond to all of the wavelengths currently covered by terrestrial and marine plant life.

    You're in luck.

    Existing solar cells do capture everything from 720 nm on down-- in fact, silicon responds out to about 1000 nm. Existing solar cells do respond to all the wavelengths currently covered by terrestrial and marine plant life.

Aren't you glad you're not getting all the government you pay for now?

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