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Sat12202014

Technology

Hybrid nanomaterial creates current from both light and heat

A hybrid nanomaterial developed at the University of Texas at Arlington can give clean and constant energy for small devices such as self-powered sensors, low-power electronic devices and implantable biomedical micro-devices.

The material, developed by associate physics professor Wei Chen, can convert light and thermal energy into electrical current. While there have been materials that can covert light or thermal energy to power, this is the first material that does both.

Mr. Chen worked with graduate students to synthesize a combination of copper sulfide nanoparticles with single-walled carbon nanotubes. The nanomaterial was used to build a prototype thermoelectric generator that was paired with microchips. The new structure also showed increases of around 80 percent in light absorption.

“If we can convert both light and heat to electricity, the potential is huge for energy production,” Mr. Chen said. “By increasing the number of the micro-devices on a chip, this technology might offer a new and efficient platform to complement or even replace current solar cell technology.”

Aside from being more efficient, the materials is also less expensive and more environmentally friendly then similar hybrids as it uses copper sulfide instead of noble metals.



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