Rectifying antennas – "rectennas" – are used as parasitic power capture devices that absorb radio frequency (RF) energy
and convert it into usable electrical power. Constructing such devices to absorb and rectify at optical wavelengths has proved impractical in the past, but the advent of carbon nanotubes and advances in microscopic manufacturing technology have allowed engineers at the
Georgia Institute of Technology to create rectennas that capture
and convert light to direct electrical current. The researchers believe that their
creation may eventually help double the efficiency of solar energy harvesting.
While some electric cars may have a decent range in places like
California, they're not so impressive in locations with frigid winters.
That's because their battery is powering not only the motor, but also
the cabin heating system. Now, however, engineers at Germany's
Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation are
developing new technology that could keep EV drivers warm, without leaving them stranded.
A new kind of conducting fiber developed at the University of Texas at Dallas is being used to develop artificial muscles and capacitors that store more energy when stretched. The fiber, which is composed of carbon nanotube sheets wrapped around a rubber core, may one day also find use in morphing aircraft, stretchy charger cords and exoskeleton limbs, along with connecting cables for a wealth of other devices.