The article “An Elementary Photo-thermoelectric Transistor: Experimental Demonstration” Appl. Phys. Lett. 116, 243501 (2020); doi: 10.1063 / 5.0010264, by Dr. Jaime Alvarez in co-authorship with the M.C. Laura Rave has been selected as one of the best by the editors of the Applied Physics Letters journal (APL-impact factor 3,597) of the American Institute of Physics (AIP) and has been considered a “Featured Article”.
According to Dr. Alvarez, self-powered devices and sensors currently operate on energy collected from their surroundings, such as light, movement, wind, and even radio frequency through energy harvesters.
However, the solutions available for energy harvesting on the market are complex and require various electronic systems to be able to work under any operating condition. Hence, it is not as simple as removing the battery from the device and inserting an energy harvester.
Therefore, he states that new possibilities should emerge when developing semiconductor devices with an inherent power source, that is, a device that simultaneously exhibits power conversion and amplification-modulation properties. In this research, a proof of concept device based on a photoconductive material has been successfully developed. The device can reproduce an optical signal into an electrical one by means of a thermoelectric voltage generated by modulating with a light beam the concentration of free charge carriers present in a photoconductive film which is under a temperature gradient. Finally, he points out that the proposed device establishes the bases for the development of an elementary photo-thermoelectric transistor, opening new ways for self-powered devices which are powered by temperature gradients through a photo-thermoelectric effect.