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[经济学人] [2008.08.21] Feeling the heat 感知热红外

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发表于 2010-4-29 02:31 | 显示全部楼层 |阅读模式
Solar energy


太阳能



Feeling the heat


感知热红外


Aug 21st 2008


2008821


From The Economist print edition


译自《经济学人》印刷版



A new sort of solar cell is in the making


一种新型的太阳能电池即将出炉。



INFRA-RED light has not featured high on the list of alternative sources of energy. Solar cells prefer visible, or even ultraviolet radiation. But there is a lot of infra-red in the spectrum, so it seems silly to ignore it. Steven Novack, of the Idaho National Laboratory in America has therefore been looking for ways to capture it—and, as he told a meeting earlier this month in Jacksonville, Florida, held by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, it looks as though he has found one.


红外光从没荣登过可替代性能源原料的榜单前列。太阳能电池更喜欢可见光乃至紫外线辐射。然而太阳光谱中有大量的红外线,如不加以利用未免有些愚蠢。美国爱达荷州国家实验室的史蒂文•诺瓦克(Steven Novack)一直致力于寻找捕获红外光的方法,本月初,在佛罗里达州杰克逊维尔市由美国机械工程师学会(American Society of Mechanical Engineers)举办的一个会议上,史蒂文•诺瓦克透露说,他好像已经找到了捕获红外光的方法。



Solar cells work because visible and ultraviolet light are powerful enough to knock electrons free from atoms. The electrons go on to form a useful direct current. Infra-red is not powerful enough to do this. It is, however, powerful enough to set electrons vibrating—particularly those electrons already floating free inside a metallic crystal lattice. Design a structure in which the electrons resonate in a way analogous to a tuning fork and you have a type of generator, since the resonating electrons are, in effect, an alternating current. Indeed, that is how a radio antenna works, except that the weak current generated by the radio waves has to be amplified to do its job of carrying a signal round a radio. Dr Novack, by contrast, proposes to create a current strong enough to be tapped as a source of power.


太阳能电池的工作原理是:可见光和紫外光轰击物体时足以使电子从原子中逃逸出来形成光电子,光电子进而形成可利用的直流电。红外光则没这个本事。但它的能量足以使电子处于振荡状态——尤其是金属晶格内那些已经处于自由浮动的电子。设计一个结构,结构中的电子能以类似于音叉的方式共振,这就形成了一种发电机,因为共振的电子实际上就是交流电。不错,这就是无线广播天线的工作原理,只可惜无线电波产生的微弱电流只有被放大才能通过无线电接收装置传送信号。相反,史蒂文•诺瓦克博士则打算生产足够强大的电流,从而作为一种能量来源开发使用。



He and his colleagues designed their infra-red antennae using data they collected while studying how metals behave when exposed to infra-red rays. They tweaked the composition, shape and size of the antennae until they arrived at spiral structures a few nanometres (billionths of a metre) across. The key to commercialising this idea is that such antennae can be stamped by the billion on to plastic sheets. The stamps themselves are made by etching silicon wafers using the technique that makes microprocessors, and the sheets can be shaped to coat anything from cars to portable electronic devices.


史蒂文•诺瓦克和他的同事研究了金属暴露在红外线下的属性变化,利用得来的数据,他们设计了红外线天线。他们调整此天线的阵列、形状和大小,直至形成几纳米(十亿分之一米)宽的螺旋结构。将此想法商业化的关键就是这些天线要以数十亿计的数量镶刻在塑料片上。这些纳米天线由蚀刻硅晶片制作而成,用到了制作微处理器所需的高端技术,塑料片可以塑型,能适合示汽车和任何便携式电子产品的外壳。



The remaining hurdle, admittedly a high one, is to collect the current from the antennae. The usual way to do this would be to use a rectifier—a device that converts alternating to direct current. However, the current in the nanoantennae oscillates at a rate of trillions of cycles a second, which is beyond the range of existing rectifiers. What is needed are smaller rectifiers which would, by very dint of their size, rectify current of an appropriate frequency.


剩余的障碍,也是公认的最大的一个,就是如何从纳米天线收集电流。收集电流的惯用方法是使用整流器——将交流电转变成直流电的仪器。然而,纳米天线中的电流每秒的频率达到上万亿赫兹,这超出了现有的整流器的承受范围。我们需要能与纳米天线匹配的更小的整流器,调整电流达到一个适当的频率。



If that could be done, a new type of solar cell would be available. And not just solar. All hot objects give off infra-red. If you put such a cell next to, say, an engine’s exhaust pipe, you would have the ultimate form of recycling.


如果能够克服这一障碍,一种新型的太阳能电池就能得到切实应用。并且,除了太阳之外,所有发热的物体都能散发出红外线。如果你把一块这样的电池放到,比方说,一个刚熄火的发动机管子上,你就能实现能量最大限度的循环利用。


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发表于 2010-4-29 03:06 | 显示全部楼层
翻译不错的科普小品:victory:
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发表于 2010-4-29 03:41 | 显示全部楼层
:victory: 赞!
真希望这样的产品早点研究出来啊
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发表于 2010-4-29 04:16 | 显示全部楼层
就是有点难啊,新手
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