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NREL's multi-junction solar cells teach scientists how to turn plants into powerhouses
Date:5/12/2011

ts in certain of nature's flora that would be able to absorb photons in the red and infrared regions of the solar spectrum.

As plants store more solar energy efficiently, they potentially could play a greater role as alternative renewable fuel sources. The food that plants provide also would get a boost. And that would mean less land would be required to grow an equivalent amount of food.

The new information in the Science manuscript will help direct the development of new plants that have a better propensity for reducing carbon dioxide to biomass. This could spur exploration of blue algae, which not only comprise about one quarter of all plant life, but are ideal candidates for being genetically engineered into feedstock, because they absorb light from an entirely different part of the spectrum compared to most other plants.

"It would be the biological equivalent of a tandem photovoltaic cell," said Robert Blankenship, one of the lead authors in the Science paper who studies photosynthesis at Washington University in St. Louis. "And those can have very high efficiencies."


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Contact: Bill Scanlon
william.scanlon@nrel.gov
303-275-4051
DOE/National Renewable Energy Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert

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