Nanomaterial to drive new generation of solar cells—19 April 2016

Researchers at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Ultra high Bandwidth Devices for Optical Systems (CUDOS) based at The Australian National University and the University of California Berkeley have discovered radical new properties in a nanomaterial that opens new possibilities for highly efficient thermophotovoltaic cells, which could one day harvest heat in the dark and turn it into electricity. The research team demonstrated a new artificial material, or metamaterial, that glows in an unusual way when heated. The findings could drive a revolution in the development of cells which convert radiated heat into electricity, known as thermophotovoltaic cells. "Thermophotovoltaic cells have the potential to be much more efficient than solar cells," said Dr Sergey Kruk. "Our metamaterial overcomes several obstacles and could help to unlock the potential of thermophotovoltaic cells." The project started when Dr Kruk predicted the new metamaterial would have these surprising properties. The ANU team then worked with scientists at the University of California Berkeley, who have unique expertise in manufacturing such materials.

Media issued by The Australian National University.

Image: Dr Kruk next to a diagram of the metamaterial structure. Image Stuart Hay, ANU.
Image courtesy: Australian National University.

Original Published Date: 
Tuesday, April 19, 2016