How can we make solar panels work up to 50% better? Thirteen-year-old teenager named Aidan Dwyer discovered how trees use math in order to maximize photosynthesis, and thought that it could well be applied towards solar panels:
On a bleak winter hiking trip to the Catskill Mountains, the 7th-grader from New York noticed a pattern among tree branches, and determined (as naturalist Charles Bonnet did in 1754) that the pattern represented the Fibonacci sequence of numbers. Aidan wondered why, and figured it had something to do with photosynthesis.
In a pretty innovative experiment, this intrepid young scientist set about duplicating an oak tree, comparing its sunlight-capturing abilities to a traditional rooftop solar panel array. [...] the short story is that his tree design generated much more electricity — especially during the winter solstice, when the sun is at its lowest point in the sky. At that point, the tree design generated 50 percent more power, without any adjustments to its declination angle.
He determined the tree’s Fibonacci pattern allowed some solar panels to collect sunlight even if others were in shade, and prevented branches on a tree from shading other branches.