Hi-tech energy-storing flowers
In the history of man, nature has always constituted an inexhaustible source of inspiration for the creation of technological systems. And it is precisely by imitating the perfection of a flower that researchers at the North Carolina State University have created germanium sulphide nanoflowers in the laboratory, able to store energy.
As we learn from the article published in ACS Nano, these tiny flowers, which resemble carnations, have petals just over 20-30 billionths of a metre thick.
The starting material is germanium sulphide, a semiconductor that differs from other materials because it is relatively inexpensive and atoxic.
To generate the nanoflowers, the germanium sulphide powder was heated in an oven until it reached the vapour phase. The vapour flow, subsequently conveyed to a cooler part of the oven, undergoes a new change of state, forming extremely thin layers. The layers branch out from one another generating the floral pattern visible in the photo.
This hi-tech structure could be used to greatly increase the life of lithium-ion battery and in solar cell production. The floral structure, in fact, allows large amounts of energy to be stored concentrated in a small volume characterised by a high specific surface area.
by Francesca Scannone