The leaves of the North American fern inspired a team of researchers from RMIT University of Australia to create a pioneer electrode prototype graphene-based, which could solve the challenges of solar energy storage and even open the door to recharging laptops, tablets or cell phones through the sun, as it can increase the capacity of current storage technologies up to 30 times.

Creation is the result of the work of RMIT University of Australia, which started from the study of the peculiarities of fern leaves, in particular their cardiovascular system and their virtues for storing energy and transporting water around the plant.

By following the design of these leaves by replicating their fractal pattern, the team of researchers led by Prof. Min Gu has taken a step forward to store solar energy, which the team says can increase current capacity by 3000% storage room thanks to this study.

Specifically, RMIT University has developed a prototype graphene electrode, carbon crystal with enormous potential for application in solar energy systems, which represents an important advance in the development of thin and flexible films for the capture and storage of solar energy.

Also, this prototype is designed to work with supercapacitors, elements much more powerful than a conventional battery to charge and discharge energy. In combination with capacitors, the prototype “Can dramatically increase storage capacity”, explains the head of the research team, who argues that this combination would provide “Long-term reliability and rapid release of energy, for example in cloudy weather”.

But besides having more charge and maintaining energy for longer, graphene electrodes have more advantages, especially those derived from their flexible and extra-thin films; which could have endless potential applications.

“The thin and flexible solar energy films can be used almost anywhere you can imagine, from building windows to car panels, cell phones or smart watches.”, says Min Gu who assures us that “We could stop needing batteries to charge our phones forever”. Given this expectation, the researcher predicts that after this progress, it is it’s time to focus on flexible solar power for move towards self-loading electronics and dependent only on the sun.

More information: RMIT University of Australia