Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering Jeremy Munday

Eclipsing the Limitations of Solar Energy

Most solar panels that can be seen on rooftops or in solar farms are made of photovoltaic cells that are made up of semiconductor materials. The cells receive photons, or light particles, from the sun and create an electric current through those materials. However, there is a wide spectrum of light emitted by the sun that the panels cannot use efficiently on their own.

This is an issue that researchers like Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering Jeremy Munday and Professor of Materials Science and Engineering Marina Leite are tackling in the clean energy sphere at the University of California, Davis.

The proposal: create a thermophotovoltaic device with an optical emitter to convert the sun’s heat into a concentrated light spectrum that can then be transformed into usable energy.

“Climate change is one of the biggest problems facing humanity today, and finding alternative power conversion technologies that can help address this problem is crucial,” Munday said. “This particular technology is an excellent new option. Together, we are super excited to see where it takes us.”

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This article was originally featured in the Spring 2024 Engineering Progress Magazine.

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