Alternative Energy Electro-Optic Devices

What are Alternative Energy Electro-Optic Devices?


This research will explore the fundamental science and engineering of power generation using Stirling engine configurations and radiometric phenomena to develop power-producing micro electromechanical systems (MEMS).  

Essentially we are using Stirling engine radiometers to conduct electricity.  Radiometers look like fans, with each vane painted black on one side and white on the other.  When exposed to light these vanes spin due to the pressure gradient that is caused by the temperature difference (black absorbs light and becomes warm, white reflects light).  The addition of magnets and a coil of wire allow the radiometer to become a generator when exposed to light.

Why Study Alternative Energy Electro-Optic Devices?

The goal is to efficiently harness ambient energy from naturally occurring sources, man-made impulses, or a marriage of both. The captured ambient energy will be efficiently translated to electric power creating a renewable energy system. An array of these proposed devices will offer an alternative to current methods of power scavenging, including windmills and photovoltaics. The proposed investigation will explore the component and device behavior of radiometer-based Stirling Engines through the analysis of photonics, magnetics, uid mechanics and energy transfer. Using theoretical modeling and experimental fabrication and measurement, a thorough comprehension will be developed of the physical phenomena yielding innovative alternative energy systems with a variety of applications ranging from powering sensor nodes and portable electronics, to providing electricity to entire homes or buildings.

The foundation of this research will be the development of a novel Stirling cycle micro-engine, which couples the mechanisms of the thermodynamic Stirling cycle with radiometric forces and other sustainable phenomena in a Stirling-Cycle Power Radiometer (SCYPR) that couples the natural motion of a solar radiometer with electromagnetic induction. As opposed to photovoltaic systems that require direct sunlight to create electric current, the SCYPR can function with the existence of a temperature gradient. This characteristic allows a radiometric power device to work through periods in which conventional photovoltaic systems would be unreliable, such as cloudy or smoggy days. Furthermore, this enables the apparatus to attain its impulse throughout a broader range of the electromagnetic spectrum than current photovoltaics (beyond the visible range). The potential to couple this device with current solar power techniques without impeding upon the production of the PVs could greatly improve overall system efficiency of both independent systems.

Related Publications
David A. Delaine, Sylvia Herbert, and Adam K. Fontecchio, "An optical induction generator through Crooke's radiometer," Proc. SPIE 7787, 77870P (2010), DOI:10.1117/12.860688


Stirling-Cycle Power Radiometer

Stirling-Cycle Power Radiometer