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Fly Eyes Used For Solar Cells

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the windows-to-the-power-pole dept.

Biotech 73

disco_tracy writes "Researchers took corneas from blow flies, fixed them on a glass substrate, added a polymer to protect the shape and then coated nine-eye arrays in nickel within a vacuum chamber. The result was a master template that retained those useful nanoscale features and can be used to make solar cells."

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73 comments

man...peta's gonna have a heart-attack (4, Funny)

MoFoQ (584566) | more than 3 years ago | (#33064284)

man....peta's gonna have a heart-attack....perhaps even an aneurysm too.
On one hand, they want to support alternative energy....but for them to know that flies were harmed...

Re:man...peta's gonna have a heart-attack (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33064334)

I believe you meant to refer to PETI?

Re:man...peta's gonna have a heart-attack (2, Informative)

Fred Foobar (756957) | more than 3 years ago | (#33065346)

Last time I checked, insects were in the animal kingdom, so PETA should still have "jurisdiction" over them.

PETA Blocks Alternative Energy Research (1)

gravos (912628) | more than 3 years ago | (#33064350)

I can see the headline now:

PETA Blocks Alternative Energy Research

What, they use inflammatory headlines all the time, might as well give 'em a taste of their own medicine!

Re:man...peta's gonna have a heart-attack (3, Funny)

Lord_of_the_nerf (895604) | more than 3 years ago | (#33064426)

Somehow I don't think the slogan would be as catchy as the fur one.

"I'd rather go without power than use solar cells made from blow fly corneas on a glass substrate.

Re:man...peta's gonna have a OPINION ON ENERGY? (1)

beanluc (780880) | more than 3 years ago | (#33064454)

Come off it. PETA's platform doesn't include energy policy. If they bitch about fly eyes, that won't make them hypocrites.

Re:man...peta's gonna have a OPINION ON ENERGY? (1)

notommy (1793412) | more than 3 years ago | (#33064526)

>> PETA's platform doesn't include energy policy.

That statement related to the environmental impact of current sources of energy. Which they do care about: http://blog.peta.org/archives/environment [peta.org]

Re:man...peta's gonna have a OPINION ON ENERGY? (1)

beanluc (780880) | more than 3 years ago | (#33064652)

Thanks for the list of individuals' blog posts which happen to be tagged "environment". Many of which make no mention of energy of any kind, alternative or otherwise.

I was actually trolling for the PETA organization's platform statement of policy agenda regarding alternative energy, as the OP claimed. Can you google *that* for me?

Re:man...peta's gonna have a OPINION ON ENERGY? (1)

hey! (33014) | more than 3 years ago | (#33068370)

Unfortunately, this entire line of argument has gone off the rails.

Saying that PETA is hypocritical for having a position on alternative energy but opposing a particular scheme is just plain silly. The primary good they are pursuing is animal welfare. Energy policy has *utility* toward that good. An energy policy that promotes animal welfare is from their perspective a good thing. They are perfectly entitled to dislike a policy that harms animals, whether that policy is "alternative" or "conventional".

If we applied the very low standards for hypocrisy floating around in the background of this argument consistently, everyone would be a hypocrite. If you said, "I'm against government interference in the way businesses conduct their affairs," I could say, "Aha, but you *also* think that party A in a dispute should be able to avail itself of state power to compel B to comply with a contract. Since that interferes with how B conducts its business, you are a hypocrite." Then we can have a long and pointless argument about the meaning of "interfere" and "compel", when we both know darn well your position is that businesses should have an environment where they are free to identify and pursue their rational self-interest. From this point of view the impingement of others' self interest on that freedom is what is wrong, whether it is private fraud or public regulation beyond what is necessary to secure that freedom.

Re:man...peta's gonna have a heart-attack (4, Funny)

Kozz (7764) | more than 3 years ago | (#33064484)

man....peta's gonna have a heart-attack....perhaps even an aneurysm too.
On one hand, they want to support alternative energy....but for them to know that flies were harmed...

I, for one, think we should act now so we're prepared to harness the energy of their spasms and convulsions.

Re:man...peta's gonna have a heart-attack (2, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#33064486)

Their leadership might; but the vast majority of their membership won't be painting themselves red or stripping in public(pity...) about it.

Blowflies are very much out of the "nature red in tooth and claw" school, only nastier. They need substantial amounts of protein to successfully lay their eggs and develop their horrid maggots. The nicest ones deal with this by hunting down and infesting carrion. The less pleasant ones don't like to wait. In tropical areas, this so-called "fly-strike"(infestation of wounds/sores/damp areas by live maggots feeding on host tissue) is a nontrivial health threat to both humans and animals. I leave the google-images-ing of "flystrike" "Myiasis" and "screwworm" to the reader; but it isn't pretty.

PETA's leadership are genuinely odd ducks; but their rank and file are mostly tactless idealists who are all warm and fuzzy about animals(you'll notice, for instance, that the idea that pets=slavery doesn't feature strongly in fundraising/membership drive literature). Even if they aren't idealistic/fuzzy enough to care about poor children in dusty countries who have maggots in their eye sockets, the fact that these insects will infest, and kill slowly and painfully, all sorts of cute fuzzy animals should do the trick...

Pets == Slaves? (4, Funny)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 3 years ago | (#33067146)

But that sir is without question. Pets == Slaves.

Now if you excuse me, I have to clean my cats litter box, buy food for it, entertain it, and sit still for about 8 hours as it sleeps on my lap unless I wish to talk in a high voice.

FREE HUMANS! Oh shit, it heard HELP M[CARRIER LOST]

Re:man...peta's gonna have a heart-attack (1)

daem0n1x (748565) | more than 3 years ago | (#33067644)

At long last, flies are useful for anything. I was always wondering why God created such a useless, disgusting, annoying creature.

Re:man...peta's gonna have a heart-attack (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33070334)

I was always wondering why God created such a useless, disgusting, annoying creature.

To make PETA look (more) stupid, of course.

Somehow I don't think God (if there is a god) has a problem with killing animals. See Genesis 3:21 " The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them. " See most of Leviticus and Deuteronomy when he goes through the list of animals we can and cannot eat.

However, keep in mind that PeTA do not concern themselves with the question of whether there is a "god" or any type of designer (be it//they little green men), They have made nature their god, and they worship animals.

Re:man...peta's gonna have a heart-attack (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33067798)

PETA = People Eating Tasty Animals

Bit random? (1)

linatux (63153) | more than 3 years ago | (#33064316)

I expected something a little more symmetrical - better use of space

Re:Bit random? (1)

nacturation (646836) | more than 3 years ago | (#33065072)

The PDF [iop.org] (great pictures in it too) had a bit more info on why those eyes are good:

With these issues in mind, and with the objective of producing textured surfaces that could be useful, for example as reflection-reduction coatings for oblique insolation of solar cells [19–22], we decided to devise a technique for high-fidelity and mass replication of an array of blowfly corneas.

The rest of the paper appears to be all about the process, not about the eyes.

That's cool and all but (4, Funny)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 3 years ago | (#33064318)

How hard is it to remove a fly's cornea, and can the process be automated from a cloud of flies?

Re:That's cool and all but (4, Informative)

raving griff (1157645) | more than 3 years ago | (#33064392)

The process merely creates a template which is then used to create the cells. Therefore, only enough fly eyes to create the template (theoretically one) are required to build an entire line of solar cells.

Re:That's cool and all but (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33068350)

only enough fly eyes to create the template (theoretically one)

Or, nine for each grid created, if, y'know, you skim the summary.

Re:That's cool and all but (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33064530)

How hard is it to remove a fly's cornea, and can the process be automated from a cloud of flies?

Sadly current technology doesnt allow for cornea extraction in the Cloud but Microsoft is promising to add that feature soon

Re: automated fly cornea removal? (2, Informative)

macraig (621737) | more than 3 years ago | (#33064684)

How hard is it to remove a fly's cornea, and can the process be automated from a cloud of flies?

Not hard, and yes: winged micro-sharks with lasers. Genentech is working on them right now.

Re: automated fly cornea removal? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33066390)

winged micro-sharks with lasers. Genentech is working on them right now.

who the hell modded this informative!??

Re: automated fly cornea removal? (1)

hawkfish (8978) | more than 3 years ago | (#33078182)

How hard is it to remove a fly's cornea, and can the process be automated from a cloud of flies?

Not hard, and yes: winged micro-sharks with lasers. Genentech is working on them right now.

Informative? WTF!

Re: automated fly cornea removal? (1)

macraig (621737) | more than 3 years ago | (#33078476)

I know... that's funnier than my attempted joke. I'm going back to pulling the wings offa bees now and leave the humor to the experts.

Re:That's cool and all but (1)

timbudtwo (782174) | more than 3 years ago | (#33065302)

FTA: "Ultimately that template can be used to replicate the pattern exactly. Next, the plan is to make a larger template from 30 blowfly corneas."
Here is a link from the article on the process http://iopscience.iop.org/1748-3190/5/3/036001 [iop.org] [Mass fabrication technique for polymeric replicas of arrays of insect corneas]

I assume they only did a few as 30 corneas would be "larger." From the picture on the article, it looks like they used nine. However, no mention of why this is a good idea and what in particular it does for solar power.

Re:That's cool and all but (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 3 years ago | (#33068560)

no mention of why this is a good idea and what in particular it does for solar power.

My guess is that they have a system to use a bunch of micro solar cells, and are using the fly-eye shaped nickel reflectors to focus light on the cells. That way, they can spend less on the cell-material, and just use a (hopefully cheap) nickel-mini-mirror array to collect most of the light. Like so:

/ <--
| [Cell]
\ <--

Lameness filter for "Junk Characters" in <ecode> tags gets on my nerves. code should be exempt.

Now I'm gonna set me up a fly farm and get rich. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33064364)

Gonna replace my flyswatter with a butterfly net.

Help meeeeee... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33064396)

Help meeeeeeeeee!!!!

Slippery slope (2, Funny)

The_mad_linguist (1019680) | more than 3 years ago | (#33064410)

I know how this one goes. First you start taking the eyes out of blowflies for 'solar energy research', but before you know it it's all gone downhill and you're pulling the wings off butterflies to make your product the right shade of red.

Re:Slippery slope (1)

jack2000 (1178961) | more than 3 years ago | (#33064600)

You mean like we do for cochineal and carmine( most used red food coloring ). We use bug ingredients for lots of food colorings and other things. Might as well put the little buggers to some good use.

Re:Slippery slope (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33064714)

And before you know it there will be a shitload of slashtards here jabbering tired bullshit like "yez its cuz humahn raze is da superior! deel with it!!!!! booyahh i feel so macho now even though im some fatass retard living in his mothers basement cuz i dominate da insects!! booyaahbooyaahbooyaahbooyaahbooyaahbooyaahbooyaahbooyaah!!!!!!"

Re:Slippery slope (1)

JustABlitheringIdiot (1773798) | more than 3 years ago | (#33076064)

you're pulling the wings off butterflies to make your product the right shade of red.

And here I thought the recent rash of earthquakes around the world were completely unrelated. Now I know, chaos theory...

So those nasty things might be useful? (2, Interesting)

scottbomb (1290580) | more than 3 years ago | (#33064450)

I've often wondered why God made such a worthless, pesky creature. To give us solar power?! I gotta admit, this is very interesting.

Re:So those nasty things might be useful? (1)

MoeDumb (1108389) | more than 3 years ago | (#33064556)

From shit to solar power?? Way to soar, flies!

Re:So those nasty things might be useful? (1)

KlaymenDK (713149) | more than 3 years ago | (#33065856)

Well I never ... saw a fly soar, or just attempt to glide, even. I have a new respect of flies!

(...no I don't.)

Re:So those nasty things might be useful? (3, Insightful)

justinlee37 (993373) | more than 3 years ago | (#33065494)

I've often wondered why we think that every creature was made by a supreme being with a specific purpose in mind.

Re:So those nasty things might be useful? (1)

sgt scrub (869860) | more than 3 years ago | (#33074526)

you mean like the mosquito? to harbinger death and disease, of course.

Fly joke (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33064544)

So there's a fly on the wall. I was about to swat it when the bartender said to me "Noooo, don't do it!!!". I asked why, and he said "because it's charging".

So, its the shape ... (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 3 years ago | (#33064904)

... of the lens they're after. Wouldn't a better approach be to take one eye (the best candidate based on performance) and find a way to scale up its duplication? With some sort of MEMS duplicator that stamps out one copy, moves some amount, stamps out another, etc., etc.

Eventually, we are going to want to make sheets of these that measure meters on a side. Paying grad students to glue fly eyeballs to a sheet doesn't seem to be the most efficient process.

Re:So, its the shape ... (3, Informative)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 3 years ago | (#33064932)

What part of "The result was a master template" makes you think that they need a continual supply of eyes?

Re:So, its the shape ... (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 3 years ago | (#33070704)

The part where they are going to make a template from 30 eyes next.

The photo in TFA of the nine eyes leads me to believe that the packing efficiency of the fly's genetics isn't as god as we could achieve by copying one over and over in an array.

Re:So, its the shape ... (2, Funny)

codepunk (167897) | more than 3 years ago | (#33065034)

Paying grad students to glue fly eyeballs to a sheet doesn't seem to be the most efficient process.

Why not, what else are they good for?

Re:So, its the shape ... (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 3 years ago | (#33067142)

Doesn't yield much square footage. The grad student eyeballs are larger and might be worth harvesting instead.

Already Installed? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33065208)

Can they wire up my house from the existing collection of fly eyes currently located in my windowsill?

Flies are noisy... (2, Funny)

Samah (729132) | more than 3 years ago | (#33065368)

Substrate? Nanoscale?
Stop using buzzwords...
*cough*

Re:Flies are noisy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33065900)

Buzzword? Oh beehave.
Fly eyes for alternative energy? They're on a wing and a prayer.... But if they could find a use for the rest of the fly it would put the eyecing on the cake. Perhaps as an additive for face creams? Like a fly-in-the-ointment?
Oh my, I must stop..

Electric fly in the sky. Feel the stare. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33065576)

Feel my stare, always there
There's nothing you can do about it
Develop and expose
I feed upon your photons
And so my power grows
I'm made of metal
My circuits gleam
I am perpetual
I keep the country clean

Noise reduction (1)

thewiz (24994) | more than 3 years ago | (#33071664)

Have the scientists figured out how to eliminate the buzzing noise these new solar cells will surely generate?

Passcode (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33073406)

Teddybear

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