Currently available solar panel arrays still have the drawback of loosing lots of heat in the sunlight to energy conversion process, because of the thermodynamic inefficiencies of the process of converting the incoming energy to power. This could soon be a thing of the past though, since a team of scientists at the University of Bayreuth have created a super-efficient light-energy transport conduit. Tests that they have performed show almost zero energy loss during the conversion process.
The new conduit has specifically-generated nanofibers at its core. According to the team’s findings, this is reportedly the first directed energy transport system, which can effectively move intact light energy over a distance of several micrometers at room temperature. Furthermore the transference of energy from block to block in the nanofibers can only be interpreted at the quantum level with coherence effects driving the energy along the individual fibers.
Quantum coherence is the phenomenon of subatomic waves being closely interlinked through shared electromagnetic fields. Traveling together in phase, these waves begin to act as a single large synchronous wave propagating across a medium. In the device developed by the University of Bayreuth these energy waves travel across the molecular building blocks that make up the nanofibers much like a continuous energy wave would in unbound free space.
The nanofibers which make up the device are supramolecular strands, made from a combination of molecularly connected (carbonyl-bridged) triarylamine combined with three naphthalimide bithiophene chromophores, which are copolymer molecules that are capable of absorbing and reflecting specific wavelengths of light. When put together under special conditions, these elements spontaneously assemble into 4 micrometers long nanofibers with a diameter of 0.005 micrometer. The resulting nanofibers are made up of over 10,000 identical chemical building blocks.
The results of the team’s tests were recently published in the journal Nature, while this low heat loss device will hopefully soon be available for testing in actual solar power arrays.