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Solar Roundup

January 26, 2007

Despite not having been washed for billions of years, nature stays relatively clean. How?

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):
How does nature stay so clean? I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Nature has some very sophisticated self-cleaning mechanisms, according to researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology. They looked at lotus leaves, and found that although they look smooth, they’re covered with microscopic structures that keep dirt from sticking. They also have a waxy coating that makes water bead up, and a tilted surface. So each morning, dewdrops roll across each leaf, mopping up the loose particles of dirt. The scientists hope to copy this engineering trick to make self-cleaning solar panels.

And speaking of solar energy, scientists at the Max Planck Institute have found a way to combine low energy colors of light, like green, into beams of higher energy blue light. The discovery could lead to solar cells that get more electricity from the same amount of sunlight.

I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.