Scientists at the Technical Research Centre of Finland (VTT) have developed a prototype of a 3D printed tree that harvests solar energy using organic solar cells and kinetic energy from vibrations in its surrounding environment.
The artificial energy-harvesting trees, which can be infinitely replicated, work indoors or outdoors by storing the energy they harvest and turn it into electricity to power small devices such as mobile phones, humidifiers, thermometers and LED light bulbs.
The 'leaves' of the energy-harvesting tree are flexible, patterned organic solar panels made using a mass production technique developed by VTT on a printing process. The leaves form an electronic system complete with wiring that conduct energy into a converter that feeds electricity to devices such as mobile phones or sensors analysing the environment. Each leaf has a separate power converter and the multi-converter system makes it possible to harvest energy from a variety of sources such as sunshine, vibrations caused by wind as well as temperature fluctuations.
The tree trunk is 3D printed using wood-based biocomposites developed by VTT.
The more solar cells there are in a tree, the more energy it can harvest.
Article originally posted on EE Times Europe.