Researchers at the Environment and Sustainability Institute (ESI) and the University of Exeter’s Centre for Ecology and Conservation are developing a new solar panel design, inspired by the v-shaped pose of cabbage white butterflies.


In a scientific journal, Scientific Reports, the research team has noted that new techniques based on the butterfly could make solar energy cheaper and more efficient.

Prior to flight, the cabbage white butterflies harness sun energy in a short time to warm up their wing muscles. On cloudy days they take to the air more quickly than other type of butterflies.

According to the scientists, these butterflies could quickly warmup its wings due to the unique v-shaped pose which maximizes solar energy concentration onto its thorax.

The butterfly is believed to maintain around 17ºwings angle to increase body temperature by 7.3ºCcompared to when it lies held flat.

Replicating the wing-like structure of the butterfly, researchers developed new photovoltaic cells inside solar panels resulting in improvement of production by up to 50%.

Research lead author Tapas Mallick said: "Biomimicry in engineering is not new.

"However, this truly multidisciplinary research shows pathways to develop low cost solar power that have not been done before."

The new cells are also claimed to have increased the overall solar energy structure’ power-to-weight ratio by 17-fold, making it more efficient.

Image: Cabbage White butterflies maintain 17ºangle for wings to increase body temperature by 7.3ºC. Photo: courtesy of Shutterstock/Universety of Exeter