Butterflies Could Hold Key For Better Solar Panels

Researchers at the University of Exeter have learned that a species of butterfly twists its body at a specific angle to increase its body temperature by more than seven degrees. The team at Exeter believe that by mimicking the butterfly’s wing angle, they can increase the efficiency of solar panels by up to 50%.

White cabbage butterflies move their wings to a 17-degree angle just before taking flight to increase their body temperature and heat up their wing muscles ensuring a powerful take-off.

The technique, known as “reflective basking”, can be mimicked in the design and setup of solar panels where scientists at Exeter have experimented with the benefits of developing the v-shaped angle.

That’s not all that this research team was able to capture for design inspiration by looking at butterflies and their wings. They are also experimenting with the potential energy advantages of nonuniform reflectors on solar panels, copying the bead design of a butterfly wing. The possibility of a 50% increase in solar panel efficiency is further evidence that the upper limits of solar technologies are still far from being realised.

Source: Biomimicry: Butterflies’ reflective basking inspires solar cell designs

Licensed under CC – credit Flickr user: Eileen McFall

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Seb Egerton-Read

Seb Egerton-Read

Seb writes daily content for Circulate across the full spectrum of the website's topics. Previously he has spent five years as a freelance writer for a number of websites and blogs. You can e-mail Seb at seb[at]

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