New type of solar cells could generate electricity at night

Deepak Gupta May 27, 2022
Updated 2022/05/27 at 9:50 PM

If until now the dark and the lack of rays were a drawback of solar energy, from now on, this may no longer be a problem. This is because a group of scientists has developed a new type of solar cell that is capable of generating electricity even at night.

Despite being in a very embryonic stage, researchers hope that the industry will be able to see the potential of the technology.

A group of scientists from UNSW Sydney announced significant technological advance in the renewable energy sector. The team has developed a new type of solar cells that are capable of producing electricity even at night. But how?

Night-time solar energy generates electricity from heat radiated as infrared light – in the same way that the Earth cools when it radiates heat into space at night. Despite still generating a low amount of energy, scientists hope that in the future it will be possible to improve this performance.

Just as the solar cell generates electricity by absorbing sunlight, the thermodidactic diode generates electricity by emitting infrared light to a cooler environment. In both cases, it is the temperature difference that makes it possible to generate electricity. The thermodidactic diode is a semiconductor device composed of materials normally found in night vision goggles, it was used to generate energy from the emission of infrared light.

Thermodidactic diode, a semiconductor device that generates electricity by emitting infrared light to a cooler environment

Thermodidactic diode, a semiconductor device that generates electricity by emitting infrared light to a cooler environment

This technology, which was only theorized, is a step on the way towards significantly more efficient equipment that could capture much more energy than it currently does.

Even though commercialization of these technologies is still a long way off, being at the beginning of an evolving idea is such an exciting place to be as a researcher.

By leveraging our knowledge of how to design and optimize solar cells and materials borrowed from the existing mid-infrared photodetector community, we expect rapid progress towards realizing the dream of solar power at night.

Said the article's co-author, Michael Nielsen.

Team captured by an infrared camera

Team captured by an infrared camera

In turn, Professor Ekins-Daukes explained that this technology could “harvest this energy and remove the need for batteries in certain devices - or help to recharge them”, since, in her opinion, conventional solar energy is not a viable option in this regard.

Read too:

Share this Article
Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.