QUT solar cell researchers inspired by the eyes of a fly

Queensland University of Technology researchers on the hunt for the perfect solar cell have been inspired by the eye of a fly.

Fly eyes have evolved over millions of years to make the most of the tiny amount of visible light that hits them in a brilliant example of natural nanotechnology.

The team from QUT’s zinc-oxide replicas pull off the same tricks, using a three-zone structure copied straight from a real-life fly.

The bio-inspired nanomaterial captures energy across a wide solar spectrum using only one material, something that conventional solar panels struggle to achieve with a plethora of metals.

The fly-eye solution comes “very close to perfection” and could readily be incorporated into modern solar cells for an impressive boost in energy harvesting, according to senior research fellow Dr Ziqi Sun.

Dr Sun spoke at the Physics Congress in Brisbane earlier this month about the underlying technology that he and his colleagues have developed to make nano-structures using sheets of metal oxides.

The new solar cell design will be published in Materials Today Chemistry.