Yvonne Carts-Powell

Funneling the sun’s energy

In beautiful, Science, technology on December 3, 2012 at 11:41 am

funnel scaled
A material that is strained by varying amounts does a better-than-average job of separating electrical charges, which is a necessary part of collecting energy from solar cells. Researchers at MIT are experimenting with strain in a thin sheet of molybdenum disulfide. It acts sort of like a funnel, pushing electrons in towards the area of highest strain.

The metaphorical electronic funnel also, oddly enough, assumes the physical shape of a funnel, since the strain is caused by a needle pressing down on the middle of the sheet. Near the needle the strain is large, while at the edges of the sheet the strain is small, and there’s a smooth change of strain in between.

Strain has been investigated for crystal growth in the past, but I haven’t heard of people using elastic strain to change electronic properties before.

Read the MIT press release about the work: Funneling the sun’s energy. or
the paper in Nature Photonics

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