Though many kids his age are playing video games or cruising sites online, 7th grader Aiden Dwyer prefers to trek through the woods and study science. OK, so there are still some kids out there who do like to get out in nature, but my bet is they're building forts and burning things. Aiden, on the other hand spent his time studying how trees branch in a very specific way and managed to make a pretty significant solar breakthrough. A recent article on inhabitat explains that through his findings, Aiden made a solar cell tree that produces 20% to 50% more power than a uniform array of PV panels.
He found that using a specific formula for distributing solar cells can drastically improve energy generation. His studies lead him to a central the Fibonacci sequence, which consists of taking a number and adding it to the number before it like 1+1=2, then 2+1=3, then 3+2=5, 8, 13, 21 and so on a very specific pattern emerges. The pattern and its corresponding ratios are reflected in nature frequently. Aidan’s observation of how trees branch according to the formula lead him to test the theory. He first measured tree branches by how often they branch and at what degree from each other. Then to see why they branch this way he built a small solar array using the Fibonacci formula, stepping cells at specific intervals and heights. He then compared the energy output with identical cells set in a row.
The Fibonacci tree design performed better than the flat-panel model. The tree design made 20% more electricity and collected two and a half more hours of sunlight during the day. But the most interesting results were in December, when the Sun was at its lowest point in the sky. The tree design made 50% more electricity, and the collection time of sunlight was up to 50% longer.
His work is attracting the interest of the solar industry. The patented design is a wonderful example of how we can mimic nature to significantly improve technology.