Photo: NASA / Reuters
Scientists at the University of science and technology in Saudi Arabia have invented a method of converting energy of the infrared radiation emitted by the heated sunlight the Earth, the energy of electric current. For this purpose, used quantum tunneling. This publication reports Science Alert.
A large amount of solar radiation reaching the Earth is absorbed by the surface and the atmosphere, and pereslushal in the form of infrared waves. According to experts, the energy in this form flows in the amount of about one million gigawatts per second.
To capture the researchers propose to use nanoscale antennas and associated diodes, which consist of an insulating layer sandwiched between two metal layers. In such devices, called rectennas, there is a phenomenon known as quantum tunneling teleportation of a particle through an insurmountable energy barrier.
Quantum tunneling is impossible from the point of view of classical physics, but it is explained in the framework of quantum mechanics. Because of Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle a particle, whose location is precisely known, the momentum will be uncertain, that is, it can take random values. Thus, the particle can gain additional potential energy, which is enough to overcome the barrier. This phenomenon is used to enhance the electric field inside the diode.
Scientists have created a prototype of the diode, by placing a thin insulating layer between two metal brackets from gold and titanium. Photons of infrared radiation into rectenna and knocks electrons out of metal on the boundary metal-insulator. This leads to the appearance of plasmons — coherent oscillations of the electrons and enhance the electric field due to the effect of tunneling in the place where the brackets slightly overlap.
For tunneling is usually necessary to apply the voltage, but this device captures infrared radiation, converts it into electric current and amplifies it, working in passive mode.
Video, photo All from Russia.