Center for Bio-Inspired Energy Science

Our mission is to discover and develop bio-inspired systems that reveal new connections between energy and matter.


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Research Highlight

A Silicon Ratchet to Produce Power from Below-Bandgap Photons

Top: Schematic of the device simulated. Multiple strips of silicon-germanium alloy could create the strain gradients (shown as graded shaded regions) in an experimental system. Middle: the ratchet potential (orange) that results from gradients in parallel strain along the x-direction. Bottom: Current density as a function of the average depth of the wells in the ratchet potential, ∆E, for irradiation of the Si ratchet with 100 meV photons and a series of irradiances (MW/cm2).

We show, with a 3D model of silicon under incoherent THz irradiation, that below-bandgap excitations (free carrier or intraband absorptions) can do useful work by exciting, i.e. flashing, electrons in and out of a structurally embedded ratchet potential. Read More