Some breakthroughs in solar technology as of 2015 include a bionic leaf, three-dimensional printed solar-powered trees, carbon-based solar cells and colored solar panels, notes TechRepublic.com. Scientists have developed these technologies as a way to generate power with decreasing costs and increasing efficiency.
The bionic leaf was created by scientists at Harvard University. The leaf uses a catalyst to cause sunlight to divide water into oxygen and hydrogen. Then, the catalyst causes engineered bacteria to convert carbon dioxide and hydrogen into isopropanol. The bionic leaf recreates the photosynthesis that occurs in nature.
Colored solar panels are created by layering silicon dioxide and titanium dioxide to make a photonic structure that can absorb sunlight. The colors appear as light is absorbed and reflected. While, as of 2015, the color panels are not as efficient as black solar panels, scientists aim to increase their efficiency and use them as a way to make solar power mainstream.
The VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland has created 3D-printed trees, which have leaves that act as solar panels and trunks made from 3D-printed wood biomaterials. Other scientists are researching carbon-based solar cells as an alternative to silicon.
Other breakthroughs in solar technology include polymer solar cells, perovskites, solar concentration technology and thin film solar, notes TechRepublic.com.