Nav: Home

Blowin' in the wind -- A source of energy?

March 26, 2018

It may in the future be possible to harvest energy with the aid of leaves fluttering in the wind. Researchers at the Laboratory of Organic Electronics at Linköping University have developed a method and a material that generate an electrical impulse when the light fluctuates from sunshine to shade and vice versa.

"Plants and their photosynthesis systems are continuously subjected to fluctuations between sunshine and shade. We have drawn inspiration from this and developed a combination of materials in which changes in heating between sunshine and shade generate electricity," says Magnus Jonsson, docent and principal investigator for the research group in organic photonics and nano-optics at the Laboratory of Organic Electronics, Linköping University.

The results, which have been verified in both experiments and computer simulations, have been published in Advanced Optical Materials.

Together with researchers from the University of Gothenburg, Magnus Jonsson and his team have previously developed small nanoantennas that absorb sunlight and generate heat. They published an article together in Nano Letters in 2017, describing how the antennas when incorporated into window glass could reduce cold downdraughts and save energy. The antennas, with dimensions in the order of tens of nanometers, react to near infrared light and generate heat.

Mina Shiran Chaharsoughi, PhD student in Magnus Jonsson's group, has now developed the technology further and created a tiny optical generator by combining the small antennas with a pyroelectric film.

"Pyroelectric" means that an electrical voltage develops across the material when it is heated or cooled. The change of temperature causes charges to move and the generation of an electric current in the circuit.

The antennas consist of small metal discs, in this case gold nanodiscs, with a diameter of 160 nm (0.16 micrometres). They are placed on a substrate and coated with a polymeric film to create the pyroelectric properties.

"The nanoantennas can be manufactured across large areas, with billions of the small discs uniformly distributed over the surface. The spacing between discs in our case is approximately 0.3 micrometres. We have used gold and silver, but they can also be manufactured from aluminium or copper," says Magnus Jonsson.

The antennas generate heat that is then converted to electricity with the aid of the polymer. It is first necessary to polarize the polymer film in order to create a dipole across it, with a clear difference between positive and negative charge. The degree of polarisation affects the magnitude of the generated power, while the thickness of the polymer film seems not to have any effect at all.

"We force the polarisation into the material, and it remains polarised for a long time," says Mina Shiran Chaharsoughi.

Mina Shiran Chaharsoughi carried out an experiment in order to demonstrate the effect clearly, holding a twig with leaves in the air flow from a fan. The motion of the leaves created sunshine and shade on the optical generator, which in turn produced small electrical pulses and powered an external circuit.

"The research is at an early stage, but we may in the future be able to use the natural fluctuations between sunshine and shade in trees to harvest energy," says Magnus Jonsson.

Applications that are closer to hand can be found in optics research, such as the detection of light at the nanometre scale. Other applications may be found in optical computing.
-end-
Hybrid Plasmonic and Pyroelectric Harvesting of Light Fluctuations, Mina Shiran Chaharsoughi, Daniel Tordera, Andrea Grimoldi, Isak Engquist, Magnus Berggren, Simone Fabiano, Magnus P. Jonsson, Laboratory of Organic Electronics, Linköping University, Campus Norrköping, Advanced Optical Materials 2018. DOI 10.1002/adom.201701051

Contact: Magnus Jonsson, magnus.jonsson@liu.se +46 11 36 34 03

Linköping University

Related Polymer Articles:

Safety of bioabsorbable polymer against durable polymer DES in high-risk PCI patients
A novel study sought to reveal whether drug-eluting stents (DES) coated with bioabsorbable polymer (BP) presented a safety advantage without compromising efficacy compared to durable polymer (DP) formulations.
Polymer membranes could benefit from taking a dip
A new technique developed by a team including researchers from the US Department of Energy (DOE)'s Argonne National Laboratory makes atomic layer deposition possible on nearly any membrane.
New polymer material may help batteries become self-healing, recyclable
Lithium-ion batteries are notorious for developing internal electrical shorts that can ignite a battery's liquid electrolytes, leading to explosions and fires.
Researchers add order to polymer gels
Gel-like materials have a wide range of applications, especially in chemistry and medicine.
Bundlemers (new polymer units) could transform industries
From tires to clothes to shampoo, many ubiquitous products are made with polymers, large chain-like molecules made of smaller sub-units, called monomers, bonded together.
New synthetic polymer degradable under very mild acidic conditions
A new type of degradable synthetic polymer was prepared by Rh-catalyzed three-component polymerization of a bis(diazocarbonyl) compound, bis(1,3-diketone), and tetrahydrofuran.
New polymer tackles PFAS pollution
toxic polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS) pollution -- commonly used in non-stick and protective coatings, lubricants and aviation fire-fighting foams -- can now be removed from the environment thanks to a new low-cost, safe and environmentally friendly polymer.
New polymer films conduct heat instead of trapping it
MIT engineers have flipped the picture of the standard polymer insulator, by fabricating thin polymer films that conduct heat -- an ability normally associated with metals.
Polymer reversibly glows white when stretched
Polymers that change their appearance in response to mechanical forces can warn of damage developing in a material before the stress causes structural failure.
New materials: Growing polymer pelts
Polymer pelts made of the finest of fibers are suitable for many different applications, from coatings that adhere well and are easy to remove to highly sensitive biological detectors.
More Polymer News and Polymer Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Our Relationship With Water
We need water to live. But with rising seas and so many lacking clean water – water is in crisis and so are we. This hour, TED speakers explore ideas around restoring our relationship with water. Guests on the show include legal scholar Kelsey Leonard, artist LaToya Ruby Frazier, and community organizer Colette Pichon Battle.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#568 Poker Face Psychology
Anyone who's seen pop culture depictions of poker might think statistics and math is the only way to get ahead. But no, there's psychology too. Author Maria Konnikova took her Ph.D. in psychology to the poker table, and turned out to be good. So good, she went pro in poker, and learned all about her own biases on the way. We're talking about her new book "The Biggest Bluff: How I Learned to Pay Attention, Master Myself, and Win".
Now Playing: Radiolab

Uncounted
First things first: our very own Latif Nasser has an exciting new show on Netflix. He talks to Jad about the hidden forces of the world that connect us all. Then, with an eye on the upcoming election, we take a look back: at two pieces from More Perfect Season 3 about Constitutional amendments that determine who gets to vote. Former Radiolab producer Julia Longoria takes us to Washington, D.C. The capital is at the heart of our democracy, but it's not a state, and it wasn't until the 23rd Amendment that its people got the right to vote for president. But that still left DC without full representation in Congress; D.C. sends a "non-voting delegate" to the House. Julia profiles that delegate, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, and her unique approach to fighting for power in a virtually powerless role. Second, Radiolab producer Sarah Qari looks at a current fight to lower the US voting age to 16 that harkens back to the fight for the 26th Amendment in the 1960s. Eighteen-year-olds at the time argued that if they were old enough to be drafted to fight in the War, they were old enough to have a voice in our democracy. But what about today, when even younger Americans are finding themselves at the center of national political debates? Does it mean we should lower the voting age even further? This episode was reported and produced by Julia Longoria and Sarah Qari. Check out Latif Nasser's new Netflix show Connected here. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.