Researchers from the University of Exeter have shown that, by mimicking the posture and wing structure of Cabbage White butterflies, they can vastly increase the efficiency of solar concentrators.

Cabbage White butterflies are able to take flight before other butterflies on cloudy days due to the v-shaped posturing that they adopt to maximise the concentration of solar energy onto their thorax to warm their flight muscles.

The researchers found that the optimal angle is about 17º and that, by mimicking this shape, the amount of power produced by solar panels can increase by almost 50%.

They also showed that by replicating the simple mono-layer of scale cells found in the butterfly wings, the power-to-weight ratio of the overall solar concentrator structure is increased 17-fold.

Cabbage White butterfly (image: by Vera Buhl via Wikimedia Commons)
Cabbage White butterfly (image: by Vera Buhl via Wikimedia Commons)