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Sunday, December 14, 2008

Rectenna,Radio frequency rectennas,Optical rectennas

A rectenna is a rectifying antenna, a special type of antenna that is used to directly convert microwave energy into DC electricity. Its elements are usually arranged in a multi element phased array with a mesh pattern reflector element to make it directional.

A simple rectenna can be constructed from a Schottky diode placed between antenna dipoles. The diode rectifies the current induced in the antenna by the microwaves. Schottky diodes are used because they have the lowest voltage drop and highest speed and therefore waste the least amount of power due to conduction and switching.

Rectennas are highly efficient at converting microwave energy to electricity. In laboratory environments, efficiencies above 90% have been observed with regularity. Some experimentation has been done with inverse rectennas, converting electricity into microwave energy, but efficiencies are much lower—only in the area of 1%.

Due to their high efficiency and relative cheapness, rectennas feature in most microwave power transmission proposals such as those used by solar power satellites.

Radio frequency rectennas

The simplest crystal radio receiver, employing an antenna and a demodulating diode (rectifier), is actually a rectenna - although it discards the DC component before sending the signal to the earphones. People living near strong radio transmitters would occasionally discover that with a long receiving antenna, they could get enough electric power to light a light bulb, although this practice was generally prohibited, being regarded as theft of energy.

Optical rectennas

It has been theorized that similar devices, scaled down to the proportions used in nanotechnology, could be used to convert light into electricity at much greater efficiencies than what is currently possible with solar cells. This type of device is called an optical rectenna. Theoretically, high efficiencies can be maintained as the device shrinks, but experiments funded by the United States National Renewable Energy Laboratory have so far only obtained roughly 1% efficiency while using infrared light.

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