Art Inspires Energy Efficiency

SCIENCE

A new, cutting-edge concept for solar panels started with two tools: paper and scissors. (Nat Geo News)

Watch our video to see how solar panels work.

Teachers, scroll down for a quick list of key resources in our Teachers’ Toolkit.

Discussion Ideas

 

 

  • How might kirigami-inspired solar panels increase energy efficiency?
    • According to Nat Geo News, “The sun moves; panels typically don’t. That means energy is lost as the sun changes position, unless panels are mounted on mechanized bases that can tilt to follow the light throughout the day. Tracking systems can be expensive, and ‘there’s no way to do it on rooftops’ . . . The kirigami cells are made of flexible, thin-film . . . strips that have been cut in a simple, two-dimensional pattern. When the cells are stretched, the pattern pops out and allows them to become three-dimensional, tracking the sun over a radius of about 120 degrees.”
Kirigami-inspired design helps these solar panels stretch and tilt, following the sun. Photographs by Aaron Lamoureux, courtesy Nature Communications

Kirigami-inspired design helps these solar panels stretch and tilt, following the sun.
Photographs by Aaron Lamoureux, courtesy Nature Communications

 

  • How soon will kirigami-inspired solar panels be available?
    • Not too soon! Keith Emery, a scientist who evaluates solar panel designs and efficiency, says “‘There’s a lot of loose ends and a lot of potential problem areas’ in making kirigami cells work beyond the lab. Can the material withstand that much stretching, day in and day out? Can it handle extreme temperatures? What about the hardware and energy required to move the cells back and forth? ‘It’s not clear that that’s going to survive 25 years in the field.’”

 

TEACHERS’ TOOLKIT

Nat Geo: Kirigami Paper-Cutting Art Inspires a Wild Solar Energy Idea

Nat Geo: Energy 101: Solar PV

Origami Resource Center: Kirigami for Kids and Classroom Projects

(extra credit!) Nature Communications: Dynamic kirigami structures for integrated solar tracking

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