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Winton Programme for the Physics of Sustainability

Department of Physics

Research by Winton Scholar Miloš Knežević and Professor Mark Warner, proposes a new charge pump method to convert solar energy into electricity

Photoferroelectrics are materials in which their ferroelectricity, electric polarization, can be affected by exposure to light.  The proposed device works as a charge pump based on the photoferroelectric effect. Varying light intensity cycles a photoferroelectric working material through various electric polarization states and the associated charge in the external circuit is pumped from low to high potential.  Many different materials exhibit photoferroelectric behavior and might be potential candidates for use in this device.

APL Figure

Charge pump diagram with S being the photoferroelectric sample.  Charge is pumped from the battery V1 to higher voltage V2.

The researchers have explored the suitability of these materials for a charge pump, optimized their performance by specifying an appropriate electric circuit, and calculated the efficiency of such pumps.  The general analysis is applicable to all photoferroelectric materials, with the estimate of the efficiency of the pump demonstrated for a particular substance, photoferroelectric liquid crystals.  For this specific choice of material a power efficiency of 2% is obtained.

The results have been published in Applied Physics Letters and can be viewed via this link.

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