Welcome to La Science s'aMuse, the scientific programme co-produced by the UM and Divergence-FM, which takes you on a cruise through the archipelago of Muse laboratories. This week Rodolphe Vaillon, a researcher at theMontpellier Institute of Electronics and Systems (IES), shares his discoveries in the field of thermophotovoltaic conversion. In the second part of the programme, Pascal Etienne, from the Charles Coulomb laboratory, takes us to the Montpellier optomicrofluidic platform (POMM).

The study we are talking about today was hailed as a "milestone" at the International Symposium on Thermal Innovation organised by MIT in 2020. No, we are not talking about the Cape of Good Hope or Cape Horn, but about a technological milestone that will make it possible to multiply by 1000 the electrical power density obtained from a thermophotovoltaic conversion, from a surface of moderate temperature (~450°C). As you can see, today's navigation takes us into the twists and turns of physics where scientists are trying to take up a major challenge: recovering energy from the environment to develop the production of low-carbon energy, without greenhouse gas emissions.

To meet this challenge, researchers from theMontpellier Institute of Electronics and Systems (IES, CNRS/University of Montpellier) and the Lyon Centre for Energy and Thermal Engineering (CETHIL, CNRS/INSA Lyon) have demonstrated the possibility of converting thermal radiation from a surface of moderate temperature into electrical power with an efficiency of more than 10%. Their secret? Bringing the emitting surface very close to the infrared photovoltaic cell, thus circumventing Planck's law. Don't understand it? We explain it all to you with Rodolphe Vaillon, a researcher at the Montpellier Institute of Electronics and Systems.

In the second half of the programme, the In the engine room column takes you to the POMM platform for optomicrofluidics in Montpellier. Prototyping, additive microstructuring of hybrid materials, UV or visible laser irradiation, encapsulation, Pascal Etienne, head of the hybrid and nanostructured materials team at the Charles Coulomb laboratory, explains how to make an optomicrofluidic chip.

Read more:

Press release from CNRS : Near-Field Thermophotovoltaic Conversion with High Electrical Power Density and Cell Efficiency above 14
C. Lucchesi, D. Cakiroglu, J.-P. Perez, T. Taliercio, E. Tournié, P.-O. Chapuis, R. Vaillon, Nano Letters, asap (2021)

Read also:

Thermophotovoltaics: PV cells to convert heat radiation
C. Lucchesi, R. Vaillon, P.O. Chapuis, Photonics 105, 37-40 (2020)