Nano Antennas

INL Finds Way to Harvest Heat

INL, or Idaho National Laboratory, a Department of Energy Lab, has come up with a unique idea.  Using waste heat for energy.  What is waste heat?  It is heat that is merely discarded, or in this case disregarded.  Even after the sun goes down, the Earth stores heat, but no one has come up with a way to harness that until now.

A group of scientists at INL have developed a thin sheet of plastic that contains billions of nano antennas that are able to collect solar energy even after the sun goes down.  They are dubbing these "nantennas".  The process is inexpensive and, when perfected, will revolutionize the solar industry. 

These minute antennas absorb mid-infrared rays.  These rays are constantly emitted by the Earth after it has absorbed the sun's energy.  Because these rays are being constantly emitted, the nantennas can absorb them both night and day.  Making the creation of energy an on-going process. This technology could be used to harvest "heat" from computers, buildings or any other process (coal plants) that emits heat.

Nano antennas are actually very small golden spirals or squares stamped onto polyethylene.  These are able to absorb 80% of the energy contained in infrared wavelengths.  This causes the nano antennas to oscillate with alternating current at the rate of a trillion times per second.

A special "rectifier" will need to be created that will turn this alternating current into a usable direct current.  Current rectifiers are not able to work with such a high frequency oscillation. 

This technology is expected to be available in the next 3-6 years.


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