SBIR Phase I: Direct Conversion of Heat to Electricity with Nanowire Antenna Arrays
Small Business Information
ITN Energy Systems Incorporated
8130 Shaffer Parkway, Littleton, CO, 80127
AbstractThis Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project will demonstrate the feasibility of collecting and converting to DC power infrared radiation (IR) from heated sources using monolithically integrated, nanowire antenna/rectifying diode arrays (IR-AAID). Using scaleable, self-organizing, and inexpensive electrochemical processing on low cost substrates, the antenna/diode systems can be engineered to convert IR radiation from a particular heat source/emitter with specific characteristics by simply changing the antenna geometry. Unlike traditional semiconductor-based IR photovoltaic materials with their associated low efficiencies, high material costs, temperature sensitivity and matched high temperature emitter requirements, an IR-AAID system could potentially convert heat to electricity at over 40% efficiency. The best IR photovoltaic modules typically operate at less than 5% efficiency, require 1200 to 2000 Celsius emitter temperatures to match available band gaps, and require very expensive materials with chemically tailored compositions to match specific energy applications. The commercial and broader impacts of this technology will be low-cost nanowire arrays with high density and tunable diameter/length aspect ratios over a relatively large area for heat collection applications. These applications will vary from portable power packs that use low temperature heat, to the generation of electricity from high temperature nuclear and conventional heat sources where noise or other environmental concerns are an issue.
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