Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors


Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


DHgate

Home > Press > Measurement of 'hot' electrons could have solar energy payoff: Nanoantennas hold promise for infrared photovoltaics

Abstract:
Basic scientific curiosity paid off in unexpected ways when Rice University researchers investigating the fundamental physics of nanomaterials discovered a new technology that could dramatically improve solar energy panels.

Measurement of 'hot' electrons could have solar energy payoff: Nanoantennas hold promise for infrared photovoltaics

Houston, TX | Posted on May 5th, 2011

The research is described in a new paper this week in the journal Science.

"We're merging the optics of nanoscale antennas with the electronics of semiconductors," said lead researcher Naomi Halas, Rice's Stanley C. Moore Professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering. "There's no practical way to directly detect infrared light with silicon, but we've shown that it is possible if you marry the semiconductor to a nanoantenna. We expect this technique will be used in new scientific instruments for infrared-light detection and for higher-efficiency solar cells."

More than a third of the solar energy on Earth arrives in the form of infrared light. But silicon -- the material that's used to convert sunlight into electricity in the vast majority of today's solar panels -- cannot capture infrared light's energy. Every semiconductor, including silicon, has a "bandgap" where light below a certain frequency passes directly through the material and is unable to generate an electrical current. By attaching a metal nanoantenna to the silicon, where the tiny antenna is specially tuned to interact with infrared light, the Rice team showed they could extend the frequency range for electricity generation into the infrared. When infrared light hits the antenna, it creates a "plasmon," a wave of energy that sloshes through the antenna's ocean of free electrons. The study of plasmons is one of Halas' specialties, and the new paper resulted from basic research into the physics of plasmons that began in her lab years ago.

It has been known that plasmons decay and give up their energy in two ways; they either emit a photon of light or they convert the light energy into heat. The heating process begins when the plasmon transfers its energy to a single electron -- a 'hot' electron. Rice graduate student Mark Knight, lead author on the paper, together with Rice theoretical physicist Peter Nordlander, his graduate student Heidar Sobhani, and Halas set out to design an experiment to directly detect the hot electrons resulting from plasmon decay.

Patterning a metallic nanoantenna directly onto a semiconductor to create a "Schottky barrier," Knight showed that the infrared light striking the antenna would result in a hot electron that could jump the barrier, which creates an electrical current. This works for infrared light at frequencies that would otherwise pass directly through the device.

"The nanoantenna-diodes we created to detect plasmon-generated hot electrons are already pretty good at harvesting infrared light and turning it directly into electricity," Knight said. "We are eager to see whether this expansion of light-harvesting to infrared frequencies will directly result in higher-efficiency solar cells."

####

About Rice University
Located on a 285-acre forested campus in Houston, Texas, Rice University is consistently ranked among the nation's top 20 universities by U.S. News & World Report. Rice has highly respected schools of Architecture, Business, Continuing Studies, Engineering, Humanities, Music, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences and is known for its “unconventional wisdom." With 3,485 undergraduates and 2,275 graduate students, Rice's undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio is less than 6-to-1. Its residential college system builds close-knit communities and lifelong friendships, just one reason why Rice has been ranked No. 1 for best quality of life multiple times by the Princeton Review and No. 4 for "best value" among private universities by Kiplinger's Personal Finance.

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
David Ruth
713-348-6327


Jade Boyd
713-348-6778

Copyright © Rice University

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

A drop of water as a model for the interplay of adhesion and stiction June 30th, 2016

No need in supercomputers: Russian scientists suggest a PC to solve complex problems tens of times faster than with massive supercomputers June 30th, 2016

Surprising qualities of insulator ring surfaces: Surface phenomena in ring-shaped topological insulators are just as controllable as those in spheres made of the same material June 30th, 2016

How cancer cells spread and squeeze through tiny blood vessels (video) June 30th, 2016

Sensors

Researchers discover new chemical sensing technique: Technique allows sharper detail -- and more information -- with near infrared light June 24th, 2016

Artificial synapse rivals biological ones in energy consumption June 21st, 2016

A new form of hybrid photodetectors with quantum dots and graphene June 19th, 2016

Drum beats from a one atom thick graphite membrane June 15th, 2016

Discoveries

A drop of water as a model for the interplay of adhesion and stiction June 30th, 2016

No need in supercomputers: Russian scientists suggest a PC to solve complex problems tens of times faster than with massive supercomputers June 30th, 2016

Surprising qualities of insulator ring surfaces: Surface phenomena in ring-shaped topological insulators are just as controllable as those in spheres made of the same material June 30th, 2016

How cancer cells spread and squeeze through tiny blood vessels (video) June 30th, 2016

Announcements

A drop of water as a model for the interplay of adhesion and stiction June 30th, 2016

No need in supercomputers: Russian scientists suggest a PC to solve complex problems tens of times faster than with massive supercomputers June 30th, 2016

Surprising qualities of insulator ring surfaces: Surface phenomena in ring-shaped topological insulators are just as controllable as those in spheres made of the same material June 30th, 2016

How cancer cells spread and squeeze through tiny blood vessels (video) June 30th, 2016

Energy

Yale researchers’ technology turns wasted heat into power June 27th, 2016

Nanoscientists develop the 'ultimate discovery tool': Rapid discovery power is similar to what gene chips offer biology June 25th, 2016

Researchers discover new chemical sensing technique: Technique allows sharper detail -- and more information -- with near infrared light June 24th, 2016

FEI and University of Liverpool Announce QEMSCAN Research Initiative: University of Liverpool will utilize FEI’s QEMSCAN technology to gain a better insight into oil and gas reserves & potentially change the approach to evaluating them June 22nd, 2016

Solar/Photovoltaic

Nanoscientists develop the 'ultimate discovery tool': Rapid discovery power is similar to what gene chips offer biology June 25th, 2016

New generation of high-efficiency solar thermal absorbers developed June 20th, 2016

Novel capping strategy improves stability of perovskite nanocrystals: Study addresses instability issues with organometal-halide perovskites, a promising class of materials for solar cells, LEDs, and other applications June 13th, 2016

Perovskite solar cells surpass 20 percent efficiency: EPFL researchers are pushing the limits of perovskite solar cell performance by exploring the best way to grow these crystals June 13th, 2016

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE




  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project







Car Brands
Buy website traffic