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Homework Help: Laser Engineering / Photonics & Alternative Energy

  1. Sep 11, 2008 #1
    I'm looking for topic ideas for my Advanced Photonics class. We have to do a 5 - 10 page research paper, considering engineering feasibility and economics, of a project that somehow uses photonics or lasers to help the alternative energy cause. However, it needs to be new and innovative, not something someone is already doing. I've got a few ideas that I'm going to post below, but was hoping to get better ideas from others.

    My ideas:
    1. Use lasers to help with fission fuel refinement. I haven't looked into this much yet.

    2. Lasers for silicon purification (needed for photovoltaics). Silicon can be purified by heat, but is generally done by a chemical deposition process now and I need better sources to explain this process to me before I can judge if laser heating might be more energy efficient.

    3. Investigate wireless (microwave) energy, going into space and back, as a more efficient alternative to long (7000 mi) transmission lines. This would be important if we wanted giant solar arrays in deserts like the Sahara or Gobi which are very far from where the electricity will be used, but figures I've found don't support it.

    4. Investigate BEC lasers for energy transfer. I haven't looked into this much yet.

    5. Build ocean going hydrogen collectors. This is an idea of a friend who wants to build many cheap, replaceable, rafts that use solar power to get hydrogen from seawater. Ships would harvest the full vessels and deploy empties. I don't like this because I think it creates problems like ecological concerns and with collection.

    So if anyone comes up with a decent idea please share!
    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data

    2. Relevant equations

    3. The attempt at a solution
  2. jcsd
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