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Super-low loss quantum energy transport could revolutionize sunlight to energy conversion

Super-low loss quantum energy ...
Researchers have created a super-efficient light-energy transport conduit that exhibits almost zero loss
Researchers have created a super-efficient light-energy transport conduit that exhibits almost zero loss
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Researchers have created a super-efficient light-energy transport conduit that exhibits almost zero loss
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Researchers have created a super-efficient light-energy transport conduit that exhibits almost zero loss

The useof sunlight as an energy source is achieved in a number of ways, fromconversion to electricity via photovoltaic (PV) panels, concentrated heat todrive steam turbines, and even hydrogen generation via artificial photosynthesis.Unfortunately, much of the light energy in PV and photosynthesis systems is lost as heat due to the thermodynamic inefficiencies inherent in the process ofconverting the incoming energy from one form to another. Now scientists workingat the University of Bayreuth claim to have created a super-efficient light-energytransport conduit that exhibits almost zero loss, and showspromise as the missing link in the sunlight to energy conversion process.

Usingspecifically-generated nanofibers at its core, this is reported to be the very first time adirected energy transport system has been exhibited that effectively moves intactlight energy over a distance of several micrometers, and at room temperature. And, according tothe researchers, the transference of energy from block to block in the nanofibers is onlyadequately explained at the quantum level with coherence effects drivingthe energy along the individual fibers.

Quantum coherenceis the phenomenon where subatomic waves are closely interlinked via sharedelectromagnetic fields. As they travel in phase together, these quantumcoherent waves start to act as one very large synchronous wave propagatingacross a medium. In the case of the University of Bayreuth device, thesecoherent waves of energy travel across the molecular building blocks from whichthe nanofibers are made, passing from block to block and moving as onecontinuous energy wave would in unbound free space.

It isthis effect that the scientists say is driving the super-low energy losscapabilities of their device, and have confirmed this observation using avariety of microscopy techniques to visualize the conveyance of excitationenergy along the nanofibers.

Thenanofibers themselves are specifically-prepared supramolecular strands, manufacturedfrom a chemically bespoke combination of carbonyl-bridged (molecularly connected) triarylamine (an organic compound) combinedwith three naphthalimide bithiophene chromophores (copolymer molecules thatabsorb and reflect specific wavelengths of light). When brought together underparticular conditions, these elements spontaneously self-assemble into 4micrometer long, 0.005 micrometer diameter nanofibers made up of more than10,000 identical chemical building blocks.

"These highly promising nanostructuresdemonstrate that carefully tailoring materials for the efficient transport oflight energy is an emerging research area," said Dr. Richard Hildner, anexperimental physicist at the University of Bayreuth.

The results of this research were recently published in the journal Nature.

Source: University of Bayreuth

8 comments
Buellrider
I did not understand this article at all. Where is the explanation of how this is to be used to covert light to electricity? If a person needs to be a physics genius to read an article then you've got the article that fits the bill right here.
DonGateley
@Buellrider, unfortunately such obscurity is inherent to quantum coherence which doesn't admit of a simple explanation.
attoman
It does imply power transmission but fails to deal with requirements for same. For instance the fact that the coupling loss from usable power would almost instantly fry the organic compounds used to achieve the reported results. The article in Nature by the actual scientific authors is clear this development extends a previously measured and real effect from 40 to 50 nanometers to 4 microns (less then the width of a human blood cell). Its good but below find what the scientist said in the Nature article. "These findings may facilitate the development of organic nanophotonic devices and quantum information technology." No power was even contemplated.
Snert
@ attoman I understood little of the Nature article - I thought that this Gizmag article explained a lot of the concepts and complex chemical properties in great detail. And why would the organic compounds fry? The scientists said they already proved the energy transfer. This isn't theoretical work.
JenniferPage
As an enquiring 80 year old granny I enjoyed this article. It is a masterly clarification of an abstruse scientific report on an important discovery for general readership. The nub of this article was highlighting the wave movement taking place at room temperature, the first step to moving the technology out of the lab and into the real world. This was well spotted by the author. Regards Mrs Page B.A.(Hon)
Eletruk
Ooooo, several micrometers. When the distance is measured in meters, then it will have applications in PV and solar arrays.
Bob Flint
It seems to me that they have developed a molecular scale optical turbine device conduit, that could be produced in mass quantities under ideal conditions. Is this the beginning of the Golden Fleece?
PaulAdamson
What is missed in this post, is that light traveling through free space is also traveling by way of quantum transport. They just made the path a little longer.