Recent studies at Tel Aviv University have shown something incredible for solar developers: harvesting solar energy is not the wave of the future—it’s something that nature has already perfected in the Oriental hornet.
In fact, this species of insect converts solar energy into electric power—and stores it in parts of its own body—far more efficiently than any manmade system to date.
These studies were spurred by the discovery that the Oriental hornet is more active in the afternoon, while other wasps and bees are busiest at sunrise. In addition, the hornets seem to have an increase in energy as the sun’s rays become more intense.
After collecting information about other variables that could influence these results, researchers concluded that the differences were strictly due to changes in UVB radiation.
More importantly, researchers learned that the yellow and brown stripes on the Oriental hornet are responsible for taking in solar radiation and converting it into electric power.
In the process, the hornet’s brown shell splits sunlight into beams, while the yellow segment contains small depressions and a pigment called xanthopterin, which is responsible for starting the conversion.
Solar technology will continue to advance, but perhaps it pays to learn a thing or two from nature first.
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