I hope that you liked our course, How To Power Your Project With Solar. And if you found that interesting, I am confident you will enjoy this one as well.
Solar panels are an incredible source of energy, but as we all know, at night we must use stored energy or an alternative energy source.
However, look at this! It would be awesome to have solar panels that create energy at night. True, right?
Some materials are capable of operating in reverse, producing energy when they reflect heat back into the chilly night sky.
A team of engineers in Australia has now evaluated this possibility by generating electricity using the type of materials often found in night-vision goggles. The material used is a semiconductor device called a thermoradiative diode.
The thermoradiative diode generates electricity by radiating infrared light into a cooler environment, similar to how the solar cell generates power by absorbing sunlight. In both instances, the difference in temperature is what allows us to generate energy.
It is unlikely that the prototype will become a competitive source of renewable energy on its own, but when combined with existing photovoltaics technology, it might harvest the modest amount of energy generated by solar cells cooling after a long, hot day of work.
The technology has the potential to advance significantly in the future.
To clarify, engineers have considered the idea of using the planet’s cooling as a source of low-energy radiation for certain years. Different strategies have achieved distinct outcomes, each with its own costs and rewards.