Breakthrough optical rectenna turns light directly into usable electricity
September 30, 2015
Researchers at George Tech have changed the way we will view clean energy forever, completing the world’s first functioning rectenna and describing it as an antenna that collects light and turns it directly into electricity.
The project is six years in the making. These optical rectenna (part antenna and part rectifier diode) are composed partly of carbon nanotubes that collect light and convert it into DC current. They work with any kind of light, sunlight is not required, however when this technology is applied to solar panels they will purportedly get a huge spike in efficiency.
“We could ultimately make solar cells that are twice as efficient at a cost that is ten times lower, and that is to me an opportunity to change the world in a very big way,” said Baratunde Cola, an associate professor in the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering at Georgia Tech.
The technology has existed since the 1960’s, but only recently have scientists been able to make them small enough to couple optical wavelengths. By miniaturizing the rectifier, they are able to capture electromagnetic wavelength oscillations and produce electricity.
This is big. This is very, very big. Because of the extremely easy and cheap process in construction, these could quickly change the entire way we harvest energy.