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Drawing inspiration from the plant world, researchers have invented a new electrode that could boost our current solar energy storage by an astonishing 3,000 percent.

The technology is flexible and can be attached directly to solar cells - which means we could finally be one step closer to smartphones and laptops that draw their power from the Sun, and never run out. 

A major problem with reliably using solar energy as a power source is finding an efficient way to store it for later use without leakage over time.

For that purpose, engineers have been turning to supercapacitors - a type of technology that can charge extremely fast and release energy in large bursts. But for now, supercapacitors aren't able to store enough energy to make them viable as solar batteries.

So a team from RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia decided to investigate how living organisms manage to cram a lot of energy into a small space, and their imagination was soon spurred on by the ingenious fractal-based leaves of a common North American plant - the western swordfern (Polystichum munitum).

"The leaves of the western swordfern are densely crammed with veins, making them extremely efficient for storing energy and transporting water around the plant," says one of the team, nanoengineer Min Gu.

To read more, click here.
Category: Science