Engineering Science

Chips convert light directly into electricity

Twice as efficient as today’s solar cells at one-tenth the cost: That the dream new antennas, which are U.S. researchers directly and without detour can produce direct current. If to fulfill the hopes, that could mean quite a revolution of the energy supply.

If to generating electricity from light, it ultimately needs always a process of transformation, from heat to electricity. This is a detour, which cost efficiency, and necessary additional equipment such as cooling systems and generators. But if-you can let this detour from what? If you could generate electricity directly from light? A forest of billions of nano-tubes

That this is possible in principle, is out of the question, and also the basics of technology are known for decades. The rapid development of nano-technology brings the realization now seems closer. Researchers at the Georgia Institute of technology anyway, have developed a kind of chip by using nano-tubes made of carbon fibre, which consists of a series of “Rectennas”. These are antennas that are connected directly with diodes. Special feature: Current can flow in one direction only. Each individual chip produces a significant amount when exposed to light, all together a little power.

Project Baratunde Cola holds even efficiency of over 40% is possible. Currently, the chip converts less than 1% of the light into electricity.
Project Baratunde Cola holds efficiencies of over 40% as target. Currently, the chip converts less than 1% of the light into electricity.
If the forest from billion vertically lined-up Nano tube of light hit oscillating waves of light interacting with the tube. Whose peaks act as a switch,the on in femtosecond time and switches off. In other words: pretty damnquickly. A frame to second is the time in which light can travel less than a hundredth of a millimeter. This pace allows the flow of electrons, and thus develops power.
Schematic representation of the structure and components of the new chips, which directly convert light into electricity
Schematic representation of the structure and components of the new chips, which directly convert light into electricity

Resistance must decline significantly Nano-Tubes are highly effective

The efficiency of the technology is still under 1%. At 1%, the development could be a revolutionary technique, says project manager Baratunde Cola. He consider responsible but even efficiency of over 40%.

To do this, especially the resistance in the structures must be reduced. It’sdoable with a few relatively simple changes in the production process, says the physicist. Coke holds a commercially viable version of the technology within ayear for possible. Twice as efficient as conventional solar cells only one tenth ofthe costs – looks like the optimistic forecast of the researcher.

US researchers have developed a chip which can convert light directly into electricity. Although the technology is not new, but the researchers assume, already within one year an efficiency of 40% can be achieved.

US researchers have developed a chip which can convert light directly into electricity. Although the technology is not new, but the researchers assume, already within one year an efficiency of 40% can be achieved.

Also in Germany, researchers work hard on more efficient solar cells.

How works the Max Planck Institute for the science of light (MLP) in Erlangen on cells with microscopically small, only two microns long funnel, close to densely in the silicon substrate are etched and thereby increase the light output by 65%.