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Superradiance Solves Solar Storage

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An international team of theoretical quantum physicists is working on a way of absorbing light and storing it as energy.

Dr Tom Stace of The University of Queensland said the research could revolutionise solar electricity generation and storage, and create a new generation of cameras and optical fibre-based communications. “In the dark or in bright light, a camera using this technology would see better than the human eye, and produce super-high resolution pixels,” he said.

The researchers are exploring a phenomenon known as “superradiance”, which occurs when atoms interact with the surrounding electromagnetic field, absorbing and emitting light at high speed. “Collectively, the atoms release a far more intense light pulse than they can individually,” Stace said.

He said the research addressed a fundamental scientific problem of how to optimise energy absorption before the atoms released it back as light. “The ability to harness light at an atomic level would improve solar panels, and bring scientists a step closer to building a ‘super-absorber’ for energy storage,” Stace said.

The researchers were intrigued by the process used by algae to transform light into electrochemical energy, but questioned conventional thinking about the ability of nano­structures to rapidly absorb energy, and how to prevent it being reemitted just as quickly.

“We...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.