Why just harness light or vibration individually when you can use both to create electricity? Making sure to fully exploit both sun and sound simultaneously, researchers from Sungkyunkwan University and Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology in South Korea have engineered a novel new device standing only 300nm tall. Publishing their work in the most recent issue of Nanotechnology, the team explained how their hybrid harvester could take advantage of the separate sources of energy to produce a single, constant output of electricity.
To create the harvester, the team used silicon nanopillars cells to capture sunlight. The cells are known for their high rates of absorption, low incidence of reflection, and potential to be produced in large quantities at low cost. They were fabricated by using a plasma etching technique and annealing process. The top of each cell was coated to prepare for application atop the piezoelectric generator, which was placed on top by spin coating. Electrodes on the outside of the generator sandwich the entire device.
During trials, the generator could gather energy from the solar cells with a 3.29% conversion rate of efficiency and create 0.8V of electricity with 100dB of sound. Researchers see the generator as particularly useful in moving vehicles and certain environments where ample sunlight is not always available. In the future, the team plans on working towards fabricating flexible hybrid harvesters using plastic substrates for more widespread application.
Image via Wikicommons user GeographBot.