Kirigami-inspired Solar Panels Demonstrate Better Efficiency


Published Date : Sep 15, 2015

Worldwide, the rising demand for renewable energy is fuelling innovation. We have seen it all – butterfly shaped panels, panels that are transparent, panels that are flexible and mold to an existing structure, etc. Researchers and scientists in the global solar industry are busy finding ways to improve efficiency and aesthetics of solar panels. Hence, a lot of product design and innovation can be observed in this industry.

Solar energy is available in abundance to us. However, at present, the efficiency of solar panels is good but not really good enough to provide energy to the entire globe. Hence, the massive potential of the suns energy can be deployed with effective solar products and solutions. One of the recent most innovation in the global solar industry is that of the Japanese origami inspired solar panels.

This new technique has been invented by researchers and their work is mentioned in the journal ‘Nature Communications. In this technology, Japanese variation of Origami – Kirigami is used. Kirigami is a paper folding art, in which the paper is cut and also folded. This results in a flat design. The flat design of solar panels is traditional, but with Kirigami these panels can be kept flat or stretched to create a lattice-like structure. This structure will follow the source of solar energy and keep moving throughout the day with the changing position of sun.

When the kirigami designed panels were installed and tested at a solar panel farm located in Arizona, it was found that these panels generated around 36% more PV energy compared to the traditional flat panels.

According to Max Shtein, associate professor of engineering and materials science and author of the paper at University of Michigan, they tried several different patterns and it turned out that this simplified pattern was one of the best patterns. This kirigami design has this property which allows it to move out of its way and avoid shadowing.