Energy is all around us, but harvesting it remains an issue if we are going to really clean up our act. Nanotech solar cells promise to harvest energy more efficiently and turn it into something we can use.
We’ve talked before about how nanotech might improve current solar panel efficiency. One such technology developed by Sol Voltaics very cheaply produces nanowires which are stored in a sort of ink, which is then printed on a standard silicon-based solar cell, boosting efficiency by 25% for just pennies. Other researchers are working on eliminating the silicon solar cell from the mix and just using the nanowires, such as research going on at Uconn [Unicersity of Connecticut], using atomic layer deposition to build so-called solar rectennas to generating electricity from the infrared part of the spectrum.
Working quietly for the last couple of years, RedWave Energy has been working on a nanotech device that generates electricity from both infrared and thermal energy. RedWave’s nanotech antennas [they’re calling them nanotennas] resonate at the same wavelength as whatever part of the spectrum they’re meant to be used in, generating electricity. Currently, the technology only works with infrared, a long wavelength on the order of 700nm to 1,000nm, but RedWave is working on making the technology even smaller to work in the visible light spectrum, 380nm to 700nm. Solar cells running this kind of nanotech produce electricity, but so far no word on how efficient it would be. RedWave is looking to disclose prototypes in the next few months.