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Nanotechnology to Generate Electricity on Mars

Nanotechnology has emerged as one of the critical sources of inspiration in the development and production of components that can be used to produce energy in various environments such as in the harsh undeveloped Martian atmosphere. According to Lyons and Whelan, the possibility of using nanotechnology to produce electricity has not been extensively explored but research in that area is gaining momentum (3). The rationale is that little or no progress has happened in terms of discovering fossil fuels that can be converted into electrical energy using nanotechnology on Mars. However, the Martian surface is continuously bombarded with radioactive rays from the sun, making it an environment that is rich in solar related energy. The possibility of tapping into solar energy is feasible because of the development of nano related technologies, which includes devices such as the optoelectronic device that has solar harvesting capabilities.

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Binns notes that several materials have been suggested as the potential candidates to be used in generating energy using nanotechnology (2). Among those materials are nano-composites, nano-coatings, nano-electrode, and carbon nanotubes. It has been established that technology driven devices can be used to generate large amounts of electricity that can be stored in special batteries that are designed for use on the Martian environment. According to Binns, the strategy is to improve the performance of solar cells to make them fit to be used on Mars to store energy and supply electricity for various applications on the planet (5). That can be made possible by the use of new ceramic, heat-resistant materials that have high performance ratings. This study is going to focus on plasmonic nanostructures to show how solar energy can be tapped to generate electricity using nanotechnology besides the use of carbon nanotubes, which offer a strong promise for use on Mars.

A study by McCray notes that plasmonic nanostructures are good candidates that can be used to develop light sensitive materials in the nano scale. Examples of excellent materials for use include porphyin molecules that are made from fine particles of gold organized in structures that are arranged in special patterns (3). Plasmons resonances occur at excellent rates because of the reduced symmetry in the nanostructure cells. Konstantatos and Sargent affirm that the behavior leads to the production of a magnetic field that enables the production of current when plasmons resonate in response to the induced light (3). However, the orientation and intensity of the light helps to determine the amount of excitement and resulting electric current. The set up makes it possible to excite the electrons in their parent materials using radiation from the sun in a process known as optical radiation to generate electricity. However, the intensity of the current generated from the collective oscillation of electrons depends on the nature of the gold plating, size, and layout of the particles (Konstantatos and Sargent 3). In addition, the electrical condition and amount of radiation incident on the electricity generating components could also be used to determine the amount of electricity generated through the use of nanotechnology.

According to Bostrom and Löfstedt, the fabrications of plasmonic nanostructures have very strong potential of generating large amounts of electivity because of the array of gold particles that interact with each other at the Nano level to create a potential difference that leads to the flow of current (9). The underlying mechanism that can be used is known as ferroelectric nanolithography. Ferroelectric nanolithography functions by manipulating the local electronic structures at the nanoscale that creates a polarized direction of the structures that influence the electrons to flow in a given direction. The domains of the polarized particles are then written using scanning probe nanolithography techniques with precision at the nanoscale level (McCray 21). In this set up, electricity is created by the movement of hot electrons due to the plasmons when they operate in an excited state.

Konstantatos and Sargent emphasized on the importance of noting that when the particles or electrons in the plasmons move to higher energy states due to the incident light that is optically radiated on the surface. The process is deemed to cause the excitement of electrons to occur in the material resulting in an environment rich in freely moving electrons. If a circuit is created with the material acting as the source, a potential difference happens and electrons can be harvested from the material. Such a large source of electrons acts as a source of energy or electricity that can be used to operate appliances and other devices on the Martian environment.

McCray notes that another one of the approaches that promise to use the nanotechnology to produce electricity on Mars is carbon nanotubes. It is a phenomenon that was discovered and provides significant promise on the production of electricity because the tubes discharge powerful waves of electricity when exposed to incident energy under certain circumstance (Konstantatos and Sargent 3). It has been one of the occurrences of its own because normal sources of electricity include water, which is not yet fully conformed to exist on the surface of Mars, energy from burning fossil fuels, heat waves, sun, and the wind.

The carbon nanotubes, which are based on nanotechnology form structures that are billionths of a meter in diameter (Salem 2). It has been observed that electrons flow through the tubes when the material is subjected to some pulses of heat. By merely moving in the material, the result is the creation or generation of electricity (Bhushan 11). It has also been shown that when the velocity of heat wave increases, the amount of current increases, providing further evidence that nanotechnology that relies on the use of carbon nanotubes is feasible on the surface of Mars. One approach that has been researched on and established to work is to coat carbon nanotubes with reactive fuel (Konstantatos and Sargent 10). The fuel is subjected to an environment that makes it to start decomposing. Once the reaction begins, it is evident that with the introduction of heat waves or thermal waves, the resulting thermal waves start to move at high speed in the carbon nanotube that eventually increases the temperature of the tube. The result is that electrons also start to move very fast in the nanotube, which guides the current into an external storage, deice, or appliance.

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In conclusion, the specific carbon nanotubes that provide the potential application of nanotechnology to produce electricity on Mars include different types of nanotubes such as the single walled material. The material is highly conductive and can be easily configured to be highly conducive or to exhibit the properties of semi-conductors such as silicon.

References

Bhushan, Bharat. Scanning probe microscopy in nanoscience and nanotechnology 2, New York: Springer Science & Business Media, 2010. Print.

Binns, Chris. Introduction to nanoscience and nanotechnology, New York: John Wiley & Sons, 2010. Print.

Bostrom, Ann, and Ragnar E. Löfstedt. “Nanotechnology risk communication past and prologue.” Risk Analysis, 30.11 (2010): 1645-1662. Print.

Konstantatos, Gerasimos, and Edward H. Sargent. “Nanostructured materials for photon detection.” Nature nanotechnology 5.6 (2010): 391-400. Print.

Lyons, Kristen, and James Whelan. “Community engagement to facilitate, legitimize and accelerate the advancement of nanotechnologies in Australia.” NanoEthics 4.1 (2010): 53-66. Print.

McCray, W. Patrick. The Visioneers: How a Group of Elite Scientists Pursued Space Colonies, Nanotechnologies, and a Limitless Future. Princeton University Press, 2012. Print.

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Salem, Hatem Fikry. Nanotechnology Research Center, Lodond, Alexandria University, 2010. Print.

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