INL (TGW) - Researchers at the Idaho National Laboratory have developed a way to collect more light for power more efficiently: plastic sheets filled with billions of nanoantennas.
The antennas collect mid-infrared rays, which are not only emmited by the Sun, but also by the Earth. The Earth emits these during the day and at night after absorbing energy from the sun.
The nanoantennas are tiny gold squares or spirals set in a specially treated form of polyethylene, a material used in plastic bags. The gold antennas can harvest 92% of the light.
The antennas are also promising cooling devices. Since everything emits the mid-infrared rays, the nanoantennas could be kept in buildings for cooling purposes.
However, there are still serious problems. "The infrared rays create alternating currents in the nanoantennas that oscillate trillions of times per second, requiring a component called a rectifier to convert the alternating current to direct current. Today's rectifiers can't handle such high frequencies," the laboratory said in a press release.
Once an advanced enough rectifier is developed, solar 'skins' could be developed that power everything from cars to iPods.
Via :: Press Release