To build their test device, the researchers placed an active layer of light-absorbing molecules — a dye known as Lumogen-F Orange — in a microcavity between two mirrors. “The mirrors in this microcavity were made using a standard method to make high quality mirrors,” explained Quach. “This is to use alternating layers of dielectric materials — silicon dioxide and niobium pentoxide — to create what is known as a ‘distributed Bragg reflector.’ This produces mirrors which reflect much more of the light than a typical metal/glass mirror. This is important as we want light to stay inside the cavity as long as possible.” The team then used ultrafast transient-absorption spectroscopy to measure how the dye molecules were storing the energy and how fast the whole device was charging. And sure enough, as the size of the microcavity and the number of molecules increased, the charging time decreased, demonstrating superabsorption at work. “The idea here is a proof-of-principle that enhanced absorption of light is possible in such a device,” Quach told New Atlas. “The key challenge though is to bridge the gap between the proof-of-principle here for a small device, and exploiting the same ideas in larger usable devices. The next steps are to explore how this can be combined with other ways of storing and transferring energy, to provide a device that could be practically useful.”
The research was published in the journal Science Advances.
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