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Researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder have developed optical rectennas (short for “rectifying antennas”) capable of capturing excess heat and turning it into usable electricity. The optical rectennas are too small to see with the naked eye and roughly 100× more efficient than similar tools used for energy harvesting.
The devices achieve their high level of efficiency through the process of resonant tunneling, in which electrons pass through solid matter without spending energy. Amina Belkadi, the lead author of a paper describing the research, compared the rectennas to ghosts. They work in a way similar to an antenna found on a radio. Rather than picking up radio signals, optical rectennas absorb light…READ MORE