Applications in Solar Energy: Harvesting Light

Using its nanoforming technology, MicroContinuum, along with a team of technology partners, is currently developing R2R processes for producing thin flexible nanoantenna-based devices for applications ranging from terahertz (THZ or “T-Ray”) detection and imaging to IR solar energy harvesting. Devices designed for energy harvesting have a theoretical efficiency of over 80%. This same core technology has also been used to produce large area metamaterials (such as "frequency selective surfaces") for modifying the characteristics of incident light.

Recent advances in nanoantenna technology being development by MicroContinuum and its partners have been described in various press articles.

Template for making nanoantennas
Electron microscope image of master template used to make nanoantennas.
Sheet of gold nanoantennas
This flexible sheet of gold nanoantennas was created by nanoforming to form a conductive wire-loop array. Each 4x4-inch square contains roughly 260 million antennas.

Nanoantenna Sheets Harvest Energy
(NPR, Talk of the Nation: Science Friday, broadcast Friday, August 22nd, 2008)

“Traditional solar cells are able to capture only a small fraction of the energy that fall upon them. In this segment, we'll talk with the developers of flexible sheets of "nanoantennas" that could aid in getting energy from solar energy or from other heat sources. Repeating arrays of tiny gold foil loops coated on plastic sheets could harvest up to 80 percent of the infrared light that fall upon them, according to scientists involved with the project. The researchers say the material has the potential to cost just pennies a yard — though a key part of the technology, a method for storing or transmitting the generated electricity, remains to be developed. We'll find out more”. (Featuring Steven Novack, Physicist and Lead Researcher on the Solar Nanoantenna Project, Idaho National Laboratory)