We all know that solar panels generate electricity from light energy. But recently some scientists has revealed that we can generate electricity by doing quite the opposite of solar electric induction technology to generate electricity at night.
They showed that some materials are capable of running in reverse, producing power as they radiate heat back into the cold night sky. So, a group of Australian engineers has applied the theory into practice using the kind of technology commonly found in night-vision goggles to generate power.
However, the prototype of this reverse solar technique currently provides relatively little electrical current. When it comes to competing with existing solar technology on the market, this will put them at a disadvantage. It could, however, utilize the modest amount of energy generated by solar cells cooling after a long, hot day’s labor if it’s combined with existing photovoltaics technology.
How does the night solar technology work?
The technology works similar to light solar technology but the difference is that this one works at night utilizing infrared light to generate electricity. You may force electrons in any material to emit low-energy ripples of electromagnetic radiation in the form of infrared light by jiggling them with heat.
Even if this electron-shimmy isn’t particularly impressive, it has the ability to start a sluggish stream of electricity. All that’s required is a diode, which is a one-way electron traffic signal.
A diode, which is made up of the correct elements, can shuffle electrons down the street as it slowly loses heat to a cooler environment. The diode in this example is comprised of mercury cadmium telluride (MCT). MCT’s ability to absorb mid- and long-range infrared light and convert it to a current is well recognized, and it’s already employed in devices that detect infrared light.
Is the night solar technology efficient enough?
Warmed to around 20 degrees Celsius (nearly 70 degrees Fahrenheit), one of the tested MCT photovoltaic detectors generated a power density of 2.26 milliwatts per square meter. Its not enough to even boil a cup of tea and it will require a large number of solars to do generate a small amount of electric power.
Its not yet clear how scientists are going to make it more efficient to work as an alternative for photovoltaics at night. Even though we won’t utilize it as for now because of its inefficiency, there is still room or time for the technology to develop. It won’t be long before we start utilizing it for household and industrial consumption.
“Right now, the demonstration we have with the thermoradiative diode is relatively very low power. One of the challenges was actually detecting it. But the theory says it is possible for this technology to ultimately produce about 1/10th of the power of a solar cell,” says the study’s lead researcher, Ned Ekins-Daukes.
With such high efficiency, it may be worthwhile to weave MCT diodes into more traditional solar networks so that they can continue to charge batteries long after the Sun has set.
To be clear, engineers have been considering the possibility of harnessing the planet’s cooling as a source of low-energy radiation for some time. Diverse strategies have produced different outcomes, each with its own set of costs and rewards.
“Down the road, this technology may be able to harvest that energy and eliminate the need for batteries in certain gadgets – or assist in their recharge,” Ekins-Daukes says. “Conventional solar electricity isn’t necessarily a realistic alternative in such situation.”
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