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New material discovered can convert infrared light to renewable energy

Published: 12th Jul, 2022

New material discovered can convert infrared light to renewable energy


In a significant development, researchers have discovered a novel material called single-crystalline Scandium Nitride that can emit, detect, and modulate infrared light with high efficiencies making it useful for solar and thermal energy harvesting and for optical communication devices. 


  • Electromagnetic waves are a renewable energy source used for electricity generation, telecommunication, defence and security technologies, sensors, and healthcare services.
  • Scientists use high-tech methods to manipulate such waves precisely -- in dimensions that are thousands of times smaller than the human hair, using specialised materials. 
  • Infrared light is difficult to detect and modulate.
    • For infrared light applications, intelligent and cutting-edge materials are required which can enable excitation, modulation, and detection at desired spectral range with high efficiencies.
    • Only a few existing materials can serve as hosts for light-matter interactions in the infrared spectral range

About the new Research:

  • Researchers have utilised a scientific phenomenon called polariton excitations that occur in tailored materials when light couples with either the collective free electron oscillations or polar lattice vibrations.
  • They have carefully controlled material properties to excite polaritons (a quasi-particle) and achieve strong light-matter interactions in single-crystalline scandium nitride (ScN) using infrared light.
  • These exotic polaritons in the ScN can be utilised for solar and thermal energy harvesting.
  • Also belonging to the same family of materials as gallium nitride (GaN), scandium nitride is compatible with modern complementary-metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS) or Si-chip technology and, therefore, could be easily integrated for on-chip optical communication devices.

Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR)

  • Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR) is an autonomous institution.
  • It was established in 1989 by the Department of Science and Technology, GoI to commemorate the birth centenary year of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru.
  • Bharat Ratna Prof. C. N. R. Rao was the founding President.
  • JNCASR is now one the leading Centres of scientific research with growing capability in translational activities, with a strong commitment to its outreach activities for the promotion of science in the country. 

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