Kirigami-inspired simply made thin-film solar cells can track the sun, without motors.
Conventional sun trackers are complex and use costly structural components to support system weight.
A kirigami inspired cut pattern is made in thin-film gallium arsenide solar cells, which are then “stretched to produce an array of tilted surface elements which can be controlled to within ±1°.”
Cuts in a flexible backing for solar cells allow to separate it into many small cells, that can track the sun across the sky, providing 20 – 40 percent improvement in the amount of energy captured.
It is lightweight and aerodynamic enough for residential roofs, which make up 80 percent of solar panel installations in the U.S.
This video was produced by Aaron Lamoureux, a doctoral student in materials science & engineering at the University of Michigan.