Nanoantenna: an upcoming technology!

The sun is another source that we can observe as inexhaustible like wind. So its important we make use of this energy and we develop the technology to make optimal use of the sun. Solar energy technologies are still no competitor in energy efficiency against nuclear energy. But are they advancing?

We already have developed the photovoltaic cell, but this technology is very expensive and has a very low efficiency, approximately 30%. Of course we need to give this technology time to develop and gain strength to oppose the existing energy resources, but time is short when it comes to find solutions to replace the existing polluting energy resources. A very good step forward would be harvesting solar energy by night and other weather conditions because solar cells only work when there is visible light.

Nanoantenna is a new technology that adsorbs the IR-fraction of the spectrum and can absorb IR-waves when the sun is coming up in the early morning and when the sun is descending behind the far horizon. This phenomenon is possible because the earth also absorbs the IR-radiation and releases it when the sun is nowhere to be found. These square spiral conducting metals are embedded onto a flexible sheet of plastic and are able to provide an efficiency up to 90 %! The only issue is how to convert this large amount of energy into electricity for our communities and industries.

physicist Steven Novack says:” Every process in our industrial world creates waste heat, It’s energy that we just throw away”. Imagine that we can convert this waste, that is a source of IR-radiation, into renewable energy.

Nuclear energy has another upcoming rival in production of constant energy but that doesn’t produce waste and sure will help to improve our world and strengthen our solutions of renewable energy.

References:
http://www.buzzle.com/articles/do-solar-panels-work-at-night.html
http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2008-08/dnl-fna080808.php
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nantenna#Advantages_of_nantennas
http://inhabitat.com/solar-panels-work-at-night/

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2 Responses to Nanoantenna: an upcoming technology!

  1. Tristan,

    This is a very interesting post, I did not know this type of solar cell existed.

    I would like to clarify that the principle is almost the same as the solar panels with visible light except that here the electrons vibrate backwards and forwards. Whereas with visible light the electrons escape the atoms and move about.
    The difficulty lies with the rectifiers (the diodes) that can not cope with the high frequencies due to the shorter wavelengths. Ideal frequencies are maxed at 5THz, the frequencies of IR rays are from 190-750THz.
    So to have an optimal power conversion other diodes need to be researched.

  2. Not only the technology of capturing the IR rays is very interesting, also the new type of producing the panels is groundbreaking. They are no longer very bulk panels, but can now even be flexible like in this post by Tristan.

    Flexible is not the only new revolution, now they are experimenting with spray on solar cells. This ‘paint’ uses the nanomaterial technology to harness the power of the sun.
    (link for a video on the paint: http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/energy/videos/spray-on-solar-panels)

    This could lead to solar cars in the future, imaging the whole body of your car painted with these IR solar cells, they would continuously charge the battery while driving.

    (national geographic article: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2005/01/0114_050114_solarplastic.html)

    One more thought I would like to add is that nuclear energy has been researched for a long time already and there have been mayor breakthroughs. Green energy is a lot less old, and therefore still in its infancy. I believe that we can expect great things from these green revolutions, possibly even the future’s energy source!

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