Solar Powered Hornet

Yes! The chitinous exoskeleton of the Oriental Hornet collects solar energy!

How would they even suspect this, you ask?

This team of researchers from Tel Aviv noticed, first, that the Oriental Hornet, was more active in the afternoon than other wasps or bees. Bringing the hornets into the lab, they found that the wasps were responding only to UV radiation.

Which energized them. Literally.

the Tel Aviv University team also found that the yellow and brown stripes on the hornet abdomen enable a photo-voltaic effect: the brown and yellow stripes on the hornet abdomen can absorb solar radiation, and the yellow pigment transforms that into electric power.

The team determined that the brown shell of the hornet was made from grooves that split light into diverging beams. The yellow stripe on the abdomen is made from pinhole depressions, and contains a pigment called xanthopterin. Together, the light diverging grooves, pinhole depressions and xanthopterin change light into electrical energy. The shell traps the light and the pigment does the conversion.

Is the hornet our key to renewable energy? Physicist discovers that hornet’s outer shell can harvest solar power

Now that’s good science: Noticing an aberration in a pattern, then systematically homing in on the cause, discovering something totally unexpected.

Maybe they should rename the upcoming movie…

(Image Credit: Kreta via Wikimedia Commons /  Public domain image)

This entry was posted in Biology, Entomology, Science, Technology and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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