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Highly energetic, "hot" electrons have the potential to help solar panels more efficiently harvest light energy.

But scientists haven't been able to measure the energies of those electrons, limiting their use. Researchers at Purdue University and the University of Michigan built a way to analyze those energies.

"There have been many theoretical models of hot electrons but no direct experiments or measurements of what they look like," said Vladimir "Vlad" Shalaev (shal-AYV), Purdue University's Bob and Anne Burnett Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, who led the Purdue team in this collaborative work.

In a paper published in the journal Science on Thursday (June 4), the researchers demonstrated how a technique using a scanning tunneling microscope integrated with lasers and other optical components reveals the energy distribution of hot electrons.

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Category: Science