Optical antennas for harvesting solar radiation energy

Abstract : Recent years have witnessed an increased interest by the scientific community to acquire green and clean renewable sources of energy compared to traditional fossil fuels. Solar radiation is one particular abundant source of renewable energy that has been widely applied in vehicles, machines, and buildings, among others. There are generally two different ways in which solar energy is used – heat and electricity. The main motivation of this thesis work is to utilize that abundant source of energy in producing a small fraction of output DC voltage and current. Since the solar spectrum lies in the nano scale wavelengths or terahertz band, optical antennas as a novel nano fabrication technology will be used to capture and harvest the solar energy. Optical antennas have properties similar to their microwave counterparts, but the advantage they have is in terms of unprecedented means to tailor electromagnetic fields in all its aspects and applications. Therefore, with the aforementioned details, the main idea of this thesis is to capture the solar infrared radiation and utilize it for producing output DC voltage. The first part of this thesis is dedicated to understanding the working of radio frequency (RF) energy harvesting and presenting a rectenna design. The second part deals with the introduction and simulation of optical antennas based of dielectric resonators (DR) as they offer fewer losses at the THz band. Two different DR designs are proposed working at the center frequency of 193.5 THz (1550 nm wavelength). The third part discusses the main contribution to this work in terms of design, simulation and fabrication of a high gain and wideband Yagi-uda optical antenna. E-beam lithography technique is used to realize the proposed structure. Apart for the single element Yagi-uda design, various array configurations have been simulated with realization of a 100 x 100 elements array fabricated on a silicon substrate. To produce a certain amount of output voltage, two techniques were deployed in testing the realized Yagi-uda optical antenna array. The first technique involved integration of the Yagi-uda array with a commercial fermionic diode that produced output voltage of 0.15 V via excitation from a visible light and 0.52 V with direct excitation from a 1550 nm laser. The second technique is based on thermal dissipation among dissimilar metals producing an output voltage. Four different wavelength (532 nm, 650 nm, 940 nm and 1550 nm) lasers excited three realized nantenna designs. Among these designs, the maximum output voltage of 0.82 V was produced by the Yagi-uda array when excited via 1550 nm laser.
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Waleed Tariq Sethi. Optical antennas for harvesting solar radiation energy. Electronics. Université Rennes 1, 2018. English. ⟨NNT : 2018REN1S129⟩. ⟨tel-02295386⟩

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