Nanoantennas for Solar Cell Power Generation 24/7!

Some things are so unbelievable that they cannot be true. If we think of solar cells, we most likely have a picture of some panels during a hot summer day in southern France in mind (ok, maybe California ;)). But what about the night? Can we use solar cells during the night to produce energy?!
Here, nanotechnology might bring huge improvements generally. Specifically, so-called nanoantennas could make this fantastic vision come true – solar power 24/7. How comes? Nanoantennas can turn heat from the solar spectrum, namely infrared radiation (see again here) into usable energy. The point is that we live in a world at something above 300K, equivalent to roughly 40meV via E = kT. So, virtually everything can be a source for power generation if we use nanoantennas. Of course this is still a kind of use of the solar energy since the heat of our atmosphere, earth, oceans and so on just came from our sun. So, how is it done? A nanoantenna can be produced to be resonant in a long range of wavelengths. Then, either one uses quantum systems close to the nanoantenna to convert the wavelengths to lower wavelenghts, i.e. higher energies or one creates classical devices that may use the heat produced by the antennas distributing the corresponding energy to some substrate. In principle, using some nice thermodynamic device, we may see boiling water at night soon! I am thrilled to see the latest developments on the subject! Check out Garnett’s Nanowire Solar Cells (PDF!) or Theory and Manufacturing Processes of Solar Nanoantenna Electromagnetic Collectors by Kotter et al for further readings!
Yours, Cécile!


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