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Scientists lay out plans for efficient harvesting of solar energy
Date:9/23/2011

he energy that is required for growth but also to get rid of excess energy that can be harmful. Transferring energy quickly and in a regulated manner are the two key features of natural light-harvesting systems.

"By assuring that all relevant energy scales involved in the process of energy transfer are more or less similar, natural antennae manage to combine quantum and classical phenomena to guarantee efficient and regulated capture, distribution and storage of the sun's energy."

Summary of lessons from nature about concentrating and distributing solar power with nanoscopic antennae:

1. The basic components of the antenna are efficient light absorbing molecules. These photo-energy absorbers should be appropriately distributed to guarantee that there is an even probability of converting sun energy into vibrating electrons across the whole antennae.

2. Take advantage of the collective properties of light-absorbing molecules by grouping them close together. This will make them exploit quantum mechanical principles so that the antenna can: i) absorb different colours ii) create energy gradients to favour unidirectional transfer and iii) possibly exploit quantum coherence for energy distribution -several energy transfer pathways can be exploited at once.

3. Make sure that the relevant energy scales involved in the energy transfer process are more or less resonant. This will guarantee that both classical and quantum transfer mechanisms are combined to create regulated and efficient distribution of energy across short and long-range distances when many antennae are connected.

4. An antenna should transfer energy not as fast as possible but as fast as necessary. This means that regulatory mechanisms need to be integrated in the antenna. For instance, if necessary, combine light-absorbing molecules with a few local "sinks" that dissipate excess of damaging energy.


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Contact: Clare Ryan
clare.ryan@ucl.ac.uk
44-203-108-3846
University College London
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2

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