Using new nanofabrication techniques, MIT researchers made these samples of tungsten with billions of regularly spaced, uniform nanoscale holes on their surfaces. In their TVP system, this type of photonic crystal serves as a thermal emitter, absorbing heat and then—because of its surface structure—radiating to the PV diode only those wavelengths that the diode can convert into electricity. The inset shows a digital photo of the full 1 cm-diameter sample, illuminated by white light. The color suggests the diffraction of white light into green as a result of the surface pattern.

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