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Solar power has emerged as the biggest source of clean energy the world over. However, it has a limitation, the sun is now always out. A new technology developed in Australia is claiming to solve the problem by generating power from solar energy, even at night. Researchers at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) Sydney have generated electricity from heat radiated as infrared light by a semiconductor device called a Thermo radiative diode. This night-time solar power equipment is composed of materials found in night-vision goggles.
While the power generated at this stage is very small around 1,00,000 times less than that supplied by a solar panel. The team is hopeful of ramping up the capacity in the future. The research has been published in the journal ACS Photonics. They have made an unambiguous demonstration of electrical power from a Thermo radiative diode. Using thermal imaging cameras, you can see how much radiation there is at night, but just in the infrared rather than the visible wavelengths. What they have done is make a device that can generate electrical power from the emission of infrared thermal radiation.
The technology taps into the solar energy that warms up the planet during the day and radiates back into space in the form of infrared light at night. Researchers showed the heat radiating from the surface during the night using a thermal imaging camera. Dr. Phoebe Pearce, one of the paper’s co-authors said; Whenever there is a flow of energy, we can convert it between different forms. Photovoltaics, the direct conversion of sunlight into electricity, is an artificial process that humans have developed in order to convert solar energy into power. In that sense the Thermo radiative process is similar; they are diverting energy flowing in the infrared from a warm Earth into the cold universe
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