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A New Way To Convert Light To Electrical Energy
by Staff Writers
Pasadena CA (SPX) Oct 31, 2014


Harry Atwater.

The conversion of optical power to an electrical potential is of general interest for energy applications, and is typically accomplished by optical excitation of semiconductor materials. A research team has developed a new method for this conversion, using an all-metal structure, based on the plasmon resonance in metal nanostructures.

Plasmoelectric potentials occur when metal nanostructures are excited by light at wavelengths near their resonant wavelengths, and may someday enable development of entirely new types of all-metal optoelectronic devices that can convert light into electrical energy.

This new finding could have a significant impact on the understanding of the electrochemical energy landscapes for photovoltaic, photoelectrochemical and optoelectronic devices.

According to Dr. Harry Atwater, who led the study, "This work illustrates that electrical potentials can arise in metallic nanostructures in surprising ways. Although it is not clear how applications might develop from this finding, whenever you can design a optical material to produce potentials, it points toward possibilities for sensors and power converters."

The findings are published in the journal Science


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