By slowing and absorbing certain wavelengths of light, engineers open new possibilities in solar power, thermal energy recycling and stealth technology
More efficient photovoltaic cells. Improved radar and stealth technology. A new way to recycle waste heat generated by machines into energy.
All may be possible due to breakthrough photonics research at the University at Buffalo.
The work, published March 28 in the journal Scientific Reports, explores the use of a nanoscale microchip component called a “multilayered waveguide taper array” that improves the chip’s ability to trap and absorb light.
Unlike current chips, the waveguide tapers (the thimble-shaped structures pictured above) slow and ultimately absorb each frequency of light at different places vertically to catch a “rainbow” of wavelengths, or broadband light. The paper, “Broadband absorption engineering of hyperbolic metafilm patterns,” is here: http://bit.ly/1g72Is5.
“We previously predicted the multilayered waveguide tapers would more efficiently absorb light, and now we’ve proved it with these experiments,” says lead researcher Qiaoqiang Gan, PhD, UB assistant professor of electrical engineering.
“This advancement could prove invaluable for thin-film solar technology, as well as recycling waste thermal energy that is a byproduct of industry and everyday electronic devices such as smartphones and laptops.” Each multilayered waveguide taper is made of ultrathin layers of metal, semiconductors and/or insulators.
The tapers absorb light in metal dielectric layer pairs, the so-called hyperbolic metamaterial. By adjusting the thickness of the layers and other geometric parameters, the tapers can be tuned to different frequencies including visible, near-infrared, mid-infrared, terahertz and microwaves. The structure could lead to advancements in an array of fields.
For example, there is a relatively new field of advanced computing research called on-chip optical communication. In this field, there is a phenomenon known as crosstalk, in which an optical signal transmitted on one waveguide channel creates an undesired scattering or coupling effect on another waveguide channel.
The multilayered waveguide taper structure array could potentially prevent this. It could also improve thin-film photovoltaic cells, which are a promising because they are less expensive and more flexible that traditional solar cells. The drawback, however, is that they don’t absorb as much light as traditional cells. Because the multilayered waveguide taper structure array can efficiently absorb the visible spectrum, as well as the infrared spectrum, it could potentially boost the amount of energy that thin-film solar cells generate.
The multilayered waveguide taper array could help recycle waste heat generated by power plants and other industrial processes, as well as electronic devices such as televisions, smartphones and laptop computers. “It could be useful as an ultra compact thermal-absorption, collection and liberation device in the mid-infrared spectrum,” says Dengxin Ji, a PhD student in Gan’s lab and first author of the paper.
It could even be used as a stealth, or cloaking, material for airplanes, ships and other vehicles to avoid radar, sonar, infrared and other forms of detection. “The multilayered waveguide tapers can be scaled up to tune the absorption band to a lower frequency domain and absorb microwaves efficiently,” says Haomin Song, another PhD student in Gan’s lab and the paper’s second author.
Additional authors of the paper include Haifeng Hu, Kai Liu, Xie Zeng and Nan Zhang, all PhD candidates in UB’s Department of Electrical Engineering. The National Science Foundation sponsored the research.
Gan is a member of UB’s electrical engineering optics and photonics research group, which includes professors Alexander N. Cartwright (also UB vice president for research and economic development), Edward Furlani and Pao-Lo Liu; associate professor Natalia Litchinitser; and assistant professor Liang Feng.
The group carries out research in nanophotonics, biophotonics, hybrid inorganic/organic materials and devices, nonlinear and fiber optics, metamaterials, nanoplasmonics, optofluidics, microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), biomedical microelectromechanical systems (BioMEMs), biosensing and quantum information processing.
Media Contact Information
Media Relations Manager, Engineering, Libraries, Sustainability
Tel: 716-645-4614 email@example.com
Cory Nealon | EurekAlert!
IHP technology ready for space flights
20.08.2018 | IHP - Leibniz-Institut für innovative Mikroelektronik
It’s All in the Mix: Jülich Researchers are Developing Fast-Charging Solid-State Batteries
20.08.2018 | Forschungszentrum Jülich
There are currently great hopes for solid-state batteries. They contain no liquid parts that could leak or catch fire. For this reason, they do not require cooling and are considered to be much safer, more reliable, and longer lasting than traditional lithium-ion batteries. Jülich scientists have now introduced a new concept that allows currents up to ten times greater during charging and discharging than previously described in the literature. The improvement was achieved by a “clever” choice of materials with a focus on consistently good compatibility. All components were made from phosphate compounds, which are well matched both chemically and mechanically.
The low current is considered one of the biggest hurdles in the development of solid-state batteries. It is the reason why the batteries take a relatively long...
New design tool automatically creates nanostructure 3D-print templates for user-given colors
Scientists present work at prestigious SIGGRAPH conference
Most of the objects we see are colored by pigments, but using pigments has disadvantages: such colors can fade, industrial pigments are often toxic, and...
Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...
Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.
When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...
Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.
Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....
17.08.2018 | Event News
08.08.2018 | Event News
27.07.2018 | Event News
20.08.2018 | Information Technology
20.08.2018 | Life Sciences
20.08.2018 | Information Technology