The research described in these papers explores new and efficient approach for producing electricity from the abundant energy of the sun that captures up to 95 percent of light energy, using nanoantenna (nantenna) electromagnetic collectors (NECs). NEC devices target mid infrared wavelengths, where conventional photovoltaic (PV) solar cells are inefficient and where there is an abundance of solar energy. The initial concept of designing NECs was based on scaling of radio frequency antenna theory to the infrared and visible regions. This approach initially proved unsuccessful because the optical behavior of materials in the terahertz (THz) region was overlooked and, in addition, economical nano fabrication methods were not previously available to produce the optical antenna elements. This paper demonstrates progress in addressing significant technological barriers including: (1) development of frequency-dependent modeling of double-feed point square spiral nantenna elements, (2) selection of materials with proper THz properties, and (3) development of novel manufacturing methods that could potentially enable economical large-scale manufacturing. We have shown that nantennas can collect infrared energy and induce THz currents and we have also developed cost-effective proof-of-concept fabrication techniques for the large-scale manufacture of simple square-loop nantenna arrays. Future work is planned to embed rectifiers into the double-feed point antenna structures. This work represents an important first step toward the ultimate realization of a low-cost devices that will collect as well as convert this radiation into electricity. This could lead to a broadband, high conversion efficiency low-cost solution to complement conventional PV devices.
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