Nanotech developed panels built from ten layers of graphene and a carbon nanotube (CNT) forest of antennas on top. The CNTs convert photons to electrons and graphene is the conduction layer.
NovaSolix uses CNT antennas that are small enough to match the nano-scale wavelengths of sunlight. Antennas are able to convert electromagnetic spectrum more efficiently than photovoltaic (PV) cells. NovaSolix is developing antennas that capture energy from the sun with efficiency near 90% efficiency. PV cells have 20% efficiency. NovoSolix invented a self assembling antenna array solar cell that is claimed to be 2-4 times more efficient at less than 1/10 the cost per watt of existing solar. NovoSolix also manufactures diodes for energy conversion.
The technology is based on the rectifying antenna (rectenna), which is used in radio frequency identification (RFID) tags used to track and identify objects. A rectenna harvests ambient wireless electromagnetic energy through an antenna that is attached to rectifying diodes. RFIDs power themselves with received energy put out by scanners. NovaSolix aims to tune CNTs to the sun’s full spectrum output to collect a broad portion of energy.
NovaSolix's products are designed so that they can be manufactured using roll-to-roll advanced manufacturing techniques. The base materials are aluminum, copper, glass, nickel and carbon and the hardware can be manufactured on the same lines that make flat panel computers and tvs.
There have been a few universities that have done work similar to NovaSolix's technology. Georgia Tech described a forest of carbon nanotube bundles connected to MoC diodes in a paper called "A carbon nanotube optical rectenna" in 2015.
Researchers from California Institute of Technology described an asymmetric MoC diode in "Ultrafast metal-insulator-multi-wall carbon nanotube tunneling diode employing asymmetrical structure effect" in 2016. A third paper, "Towards Rectennas for Solar Energy Harvesting" described constructing a patch antenna array interconnected with large MiiC diodes. These approaches show theoretical ability to get to over 80% conversion efficiency with full wave rectification compared to the Shockley-Queisser limit of 33.7% efficiency for traditional single silicon junction solar cells.
Richard T Preston
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