SBIR Phase I: Direct Conversion of Heat to Electricity with Nanowire Antenna Arrays

Period of Performance: 01/01/2003 - 12/31/2003

$100K

Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

ITN Energy Systems, Inc.
8130 Shaffer Parkway Array
Littleton, CO 80127
Principal Investigator

Abstract

This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project will demonstrate the feasibility of collecting and converting to DC power infrared radiation (IR) from heated sources using monolithically integrated, nanowire antenna/rectifying diode arrays (IR-AAID). Using scaleable, self-organizing, and inexpensive electrochemical processing on low cost substrates, the antenna/diode systems can be engineered to convert IR radiation from a particular heat source/emitter with specific characteristics by simply changing the antenna geometry. Unlike traditional semiconductor-based IR photovoltaic materials with their associated low efficiencies, high material costs, temperature sensitivity and matched high temperature emitter requirements, an IR-AAID system could potentially convert heat to electricity at over 40% efficiency. The best IR photovoltaic modules typically operate at less than 5% efficiency, require 1200 to 2000 Celsius emitter temperatures to match available band gaps, and require very expensive materials with chemically tailored compositions to match specific energy applications.