Friday, February 24, 2012

UC Merced Professor Awarded Collaborative Grant in Solar Energy Conversion

UC Merced applied math Professor Boaz Ilan is a major contributor to a national research team exploring a novel way to use fractal geometry to improve the production of electricity in solar panels.

Ilan is working with researchers from the University of Denver, the University of Oregon and UC Davis under a grant from the Research Corporation for Science Advancement (RCSA), America’s second-oldest independent foundation.

The research project, “Fractals as a Promising Geometry for Enhanced Solar Energy Conversion,” is actually fairly simple to explain, Ilan said.

Fractals are naturally repeating patterns found widely in nature — from vast stretches of rugged seacoast to the finest veins in the tiniest of plant leaves.

“In this project we hope to use branching fractals — the type found in leaves and trees — to optimize the collection of sunlight while reducing the cost of doing so,” Ilan said.