Tiny thermophotovoltaic device harvests energy from infrared wavelengths

April 18, 2017 by  
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Waste heat could be a valuable source of energy – if only we could find a way to capture it efficiently. Now two Duke University researchers have a plan to do just that. They have developed a new thermophotovoltaic device that harvests energy from waste heat by capturing infrared wavelengths. Thermophotovoltaics could potentially change the way we generate energy in the future. Regular solar cells simply absorb visible light, but the technology from the Duke University team absorbs infrared light. The device is made with a metamaterial , or a synthetic material containing properties not accessible in natural materials, that enables it to efficiently take in and emit infrared light. Related: New metamaterial could allow us to generate solar power from heat 24 hours a day The team’s minuscule device is an “8 x 8 array of individually controllable pixels,” according to The Optical Society; each pixel is a mere 120 by 120 microns. Controlling those pixels with microelectromechanical systems, the researchers are able to change infrared emission properties rapidly in each pixel. The device can display patterns of infrared light at speeds of 100,000 times per second. In a statement, Duke University engineer Willie Padilla said, “Because the infrared energy emission, or intensity, is controllable, this new infrared emitter could provide a tailored way to collect and use energy from heat. There is a great deal of interest in utilizing waste heat, and our technology could improve this process.” The device’s materials don’t even change temperature as they harness heat, so it can be utilized at room temperature. Many other methods of variable infrared emission need high temperatures to operate; some natural materials have been able to do the job at room temperature but are “limited to narrow infrared spectral ranges,” according to The Optical Society. Their journal Optica recently published their research online . Via Futurism and EurekAlert! Images via Xinyu Liu/Duke University and Xinyu Liu and Willie Padilla

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Tiny thermophotovoltaic device harvests energy from infrared wavelengths

The Tesla Model S just got a tiny bit more affordable

April 18, 2017 by  
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Shortly after announcing that Tesla plans to cut its relatively more affordable Model S 60 and 60D from its lineup, the company revealed that it will also reduce the price of its new entry-level models, the 75 and 75D, by $5,000 to make up the price difference. It’s still $1,500 more than the previous model, but given that it retails for almost $70,000, that might not be a major issue for potential buyers. Those aren’t the only Model S variants to receive a price cut. The 90D’s base price is being cut from $89,500 to $87,500. If you want a car packed with more features, however, there’s bad news: the 100D and P100D are seeing a several thousand dollar price hike, as are Model X variants. There are also certain upgrades which are no longer available for the “entry level” cars, including smart air suspension on the 75 and 75D. And anyone interested in a high-amperage charger will have to shell out for the 100 or 100D. Related: Elon Musk announces all new Teslas will be self-driving It may seem strange for the company to make such dramatic changes to its lineup, but it makes sense when you consider the launch of the $35,000 Model 3 later this year. The company is cutting out the products that will overlap with the Model 3’s functionality – the new car’s battery capacity stops at 75kWh, so anyone who wants a more powerful vehicle will have an incentive to upgrade. The higher prices at the top of Tesla’s range will help make up for the low cost of the Model 3, allowing the company’s average prices to remain the same. While this might be a bit frustrating for anyone interested in a 100D, overall it will help make electric cars more affordable for the average consumer. Hopefully this will result in more Tesla vehicles on the street overall. Via Engadget Images via Wikimedia Commons ( 1 , 2 )

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The Tesla Model S just got a tiny bit more affordable

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