Production of solar energy is generally considered from the photosynthesis process. Previously, Hardwood scientists cultivated a ‘bionic leaf’ that converts solar energy into liquid fuel. The bionic leaf connects the biological system to a clever piece of artificial chemistry known as an artificial leaf. An artificial leaf mimics an important role in a bionic leaf. It works by interposing a photovoltaic cell between two thin metal oxide catalysts. Similarly, to reduce production costs, a teenage girl Maanasa Mendu from Ohio, has created a cost-effective ‘solar leaves’.
She designed these solar leaves with the aim of creating energy. By developing this device, she is able to make wind and solar energy affordable. She wins the title of America’s Top Young Scientist and $25,000 for her achievement as well.
This solar leaves device is designed with the purpose of helping people. According to Mendu, it will be used in developing areas in need of cheaper power sources. It will cost roughly US $5.
Mendu has been working on this project for the last 3 months with her 9 other finalists. They were working alongside a mentor provided by 3M.
Mendu actually wants to create a cheaper way to produce energy after visiting India. In India, she saw many people who lacked access to affordable clean water and electricity. Initially, she wants to reduce only wind energy.
But along the way, Mendu, with the help of her 3M mentor Margauz Mitera, shifted to a different kind of energy collection. Thus she decided to focus on creating solar leaves that harnessed vibrational energy. She got inspired by the function of plants.
Working of solar leaves:
The solar leaves can pick up energy from precipitation, the wind, and even sunlight. For that purpose, it makes use of a solar cell and piezoelectric material. The piezoelectric material in the leaf picks up on the vibrations. After that, they transformed into usable energy.
Mendu said, “she wants to develop the prototype further and conduct more tests so that one day she can make it available commercially.”