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Published on Aug 13, 2012
Unlike other "active" solar systems that track the sun's position with GPS and reposition panels with motors, Electrical and Computer Engineering Professor Hongrui Jiang's concept leverages the properties of unique materials in concert to create a passive method of re-orienting solar panels in the direction of the most direct sunlight. His design, published on August 1 in Advanced Functional Materials and recently highlighted in Nature, employs a combination of liquid crystalline elastomer (LCE), which goes through a phase change and contracts in the presence of heat, with carbon nanotubes, which can absorb a wide range of light wavelengths.