Engineering Innovation Podcast and Radio Series

Sun Ray Catcher

PostedJuly 24, 2011

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Randy Atkins: Man-made solar cells are actually more efficient than plant cells at converting the Sun’s energy to useful forms, says Robert Blankenship, a Washington University in St. Louis professor.  The problem is catching the rays.  So Blankenship is studying light-harvesting systems, called chlorsomes, in photosynthetic bacteria.

Robert Blankenship: The system is simple in terms of the number of components that it has, yet it is very powerful in terms of light-absorbing ability.

Randy Atkins: Chlorosomes are sort of like satellite dishes, but collect and funnel solar rays instead of T-V signals.

Robert Blankenship: The idea is not to put chlorosome complexes on everybody’s roof, but rather to use the principles that we find out for how these things work to then design completely artificial systems.

Randy Atkins: With the National Academy of Engineering, Randy Atkins, WTOP news. 

  • A paper comparing photosynthetic and photovoltaic efficiencies
  • More on chlorosomes