Wednesday, August 02, 2006

US Patent 7085125 - Nanotube Energy Collector

The electron emission properties of nanotubes have been exploited to create a variety of devices include flat panel displays, electron microscopes, and microwave amplifiers. Usually the electron emission from the nanotubes is generated by the application of an electric field. This patent, however, instead exploits the ability of nanotubes to emit electrons based on thermal (heat), photonic (light), or phononic (vibrational) interaction with the nanotubes. This allows for the creation of solar panels or heat engines that can generate electric current. Given that nanotube composites can be formed on flexible supports this could allow for embedded solar panels or other energy converting devices into clothing, plastics, etc. Claim 1 reads:

1. A carbon nanotube electrical device comprising: a) a cathode having a carbon nanotube coating, said carbon nanotube coating comprising either substantially aligned carbon nanotubes grown on the cathode or randomly oriented carbon nanotubes in a binder; b) an anode placed in an electrically conductive relationship with the cathode, such that there is a space between the cathode and the anode; and c) an energy collector coupled to the cathode opposite the carbon nanotubes, the energy collector configured for collecting thermal, photonic, or phononic energy.