London: Spinach, which has been made popular for its energy-boosting powers by Popeye the Sailor Man, could be placed into solar panels to create a much greater supply of electricity, researchers say.
Scientists from Vanderbilt University in Tennessee discovered that combining the green-leafed vegetable with silicon produced a much stronger electrical current in solar cells than present methods.
This could eventually lead to a much more efficient form of using the sun’s rays for sustainable energy in the future.
For the study, the team of biomolecular engineers and chemists used the photosynthetic protein in spinach - the vital ingredient that converts light into energy to make plants grow.
They then combined it with silicon, which is already used in solar cells, in a way that produced an electrical current 2.5 times more powerful that existing solar cells.
According to lead researcher David Cliffel, the new discovery could lead to the production of a new wave of solar cells within three years.
Unlike previous experiments using the photosynthetic protein (PS1) of plants, the team also reckons to have found a way of making the combination last for much longer with no decline in performance.
“Nature knows how to do this extremely well. In evergreen trees, for example, PS1 lasts for years,” the Daily Mail quoted Cliffel as saying.
“We just have to figure out how to do it ourselves,” he added.
The study has been published in the journal Advanced Materials.
First Published: Thursday, September 6, 2012, 12:45