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Professor Laurie Peter
Professor Laurie Peter

Press Release - 02 December 2008

Bath science café: solar cells take a leaf out of nature

Photosynthesis in plants is the model behind new technology to convert sunlight into electricity, says Professor Laurie Peter, who will speak at the next Bath Science Café (7.30pm Monday 8 December in the Raven pub, Queen Street).

Conventional solar cells use silicon to absorb and conduct sunlight but specially designed dye molecules mean that electricity can be produced more cheaply and using greener materials.

To prove the point, Professor Peter from the University of Bath’s Department of Chemistry will demonstrate the solar cells at work using the natural dye of squashed raspberries in his talk entitled, ‘After green chemistry comes raspberry-flavoured chemistry: adventures in solar cell research?’

“We are taking a leaf out of photosynthesis to look at how it works and to try and imitate it in the construction of solar cells,” said Professor Peter. “We use synthetic dye that mimics the chlorophyll molecules in a green leaf to absorb and conduct energy.”

This research into solar cells is one of three sustainable energy projects within the Department of Chemistry that have been showcased at a number of prestigious science festivals, including the Royal Society’s Summer Science Exhibition and a special Science Day at Buckingham Palace.

G 24-i, a company based in Wales, is set to be the first factory to reproduce these techniques, making solar cells from renewable energy and other green sources.

The talk will be held in The Raven pub in Queen Street in the centre of Bath. No tickets or reservations are required - just turn up at 7.30pm for an 8pm start.

Organisers will ask for a small voluntary donation to cover travel costs for the speakers.

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