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Dublin: 18 °C Friday 3 July, 2020
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13-year-old makes solar power breakthrough

The New York teenager made the discovery after being inspired by the patterns that tree branches are laid out in.

Image: Ben Birchall/PA Archive/Press Association Images

A YOUNG TEENAGER has made a scientific breakthrough in the world of solar power.

New York native Aidan Dwyer was out walking one day through a forest when he noticed the patterns in tree branches.

He decided to study these patterns and this lead him to the Fibonacci sequence.

This sequence begins with the numbers 0 and 1 – they are added together and each subsequent number in the sequence is the sum of the previous two.

This pattern is in turn reflected in nature in many instances, and Aidan decided to test with tree branches.

He built a test tool to measure the spiral pattern on certain species of trees and discovered that the Fibonacci sequence was indeed behind the pattern seen in tree branches.

When it came to constructing his own ‘tree’, he used the Fibonacci pattern of an oak tree, and in place of leaves he used PV solar panels.

He also used a flat panel solar power collector so he could compare the results.

He tested his solar power ‘tree’ from October to December and compared his results on graphs.

It transpired that the Fibonacci tree made 20 per cent more electricity than the flat panel, collecting 2.5 more hours of sunlight.

And even in dark December, the tree made 50 per cent more electricity.

Aidan went on to win a Young Naturalist Award for his work.

The bright young spark says that he wants to continue researching his project and improving his designs.

Read all of what Aidan has to say about his project on the American Natural History Museum website>

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