Tel Aviv University (TAU) have made a discovery that may one day lead
to more efficient batteries, solar panels and windows that clean
themselves. The researchers grew a forest
of nanosize peptides in the range of 100 nanometers. The
so-called peptide forests are able to repel dust and water and have
the potential for a very effective self-cleaning coating for windows
and solar panels.
Both windows and solar panels are less
efficient as they get dirty. This is a particularly big issue for
solar panels since many of the world's largest solar energy plants
are placed in deserts where dust is a very big concern. The
researchers on the project include graduate student Lihi
Adler-Abramovich and a team working under Prof. Ehud Gazit in TAU's
Department of Molecular Microbiology and
Adler-Abramovich said, "This is beautiful
and protean research. It began as an attempt to find a new cure for
Alzheimer's disease. To our surprise, it also had implications for
electric cars, solar energy and construction."
discoveries that turn out to have great implications, the peptide
forest coating was discovered by accident. The researchers were
working on a project for drug company Merck to find a treatment for
Adler-Abramovich said, "We are not
manufacturing the actual material but developing a basic-science
technology that could lead to self-cleaning windows and more
efficient energy storage devices in just a few years. As scientists,
we focus on pure research. Thanks to Prof. Gazit's work on beta
amyloid proteins, we were able to develop a technique that enables
short peptides to 'self-assemble,' forming an entirely new kind of
coating which is also a super-capacitor."
saying, "Our technology may lead to a storage material with a
high density. This is important when you need to generate a lot of
energy in a short period of time. It could also be incorporated into
today's lithium batteries."