Light, Antennas, and Holograms

Optical AntennaIn a previous post I talked about the use of nanoscale antennas for solar power collection. In this post I want to mention a few other ideas which relate to our new-found ability to manufacture extremely small-scale structures using processes in nanotechnology.

Technology is getting to the point where we can manufacture structures on various substrates that are only a few nanometers in size. Certainly it is now very easy to layer conducting elements on silicon which are smaller than a micron in length. In 2011 silicon technology reached the 22 nanometer length scale for CMOS processing. This corresponds to half the distance Continue reading

Trees, Fractals and Solar Power

SunflowerThe Wall Street Journal recently ran a story about Aidan Dwyer, a 13 year old, who has created a stir with his science project which purported to show that if solar cells are arranged in space like leaves on a tree rather than on a flat surface, they collect more solar energy. His project write-up can be found here. The internet response has ranged from praise and offers of business capital to aggressive attacks and charges that his experiment is pseudoscience.

Unfortunately Aidan did not measure the right quantity (power) when performing his experiments, so in the original form they are not conclusive. What aspects of his ideas Continue reading

Trillion Frames-per-Second Camera Explained

MIT has been recently in the news because Ramesh Raskar and his team have demonstrated a camera which can visualize the motion light through a scene. The New York Times has a writeup here. More details can be found on the group project page.

One thing that commentators have been confused about is what it means to show light in flight through a media. In fact the group’s video¬†makes it more confusing to the layman when Raskar says “We have built a virtual slow-motion camera where we can see photons or light particles moving through space.” This gives that impression that we can see single Continue reading