From Nightvision Goggles to Night-time Solar Power

Scientists at the School of Photovoltaic and Renewable Energy Engineering at UNSW Sydney and ARC Centre of Excellence in Exciton Science have successfully tested a device capable of converting infrared heat into electrical power.

The team used a ‘thermo-radiative diode’ to make this conversion.

“…the sun provides the hot source and a relatively cool solar panel on the Earth’s surface provides a cold absorber. This allows electricity to be produced,” says Nicholas Ekins-Daukes, the research team leader.

“However, when we think about the infrared emission from the Earth into outer space, it is now the Earth that is the comparatively warm body, with the vast void of space being extremely cold.

“…it is possible to generate electricity from this temperature difference too: the emission of infrared light into space.”

While the amount of energy produced was small, the proof of concept is significant.

Their research is here in ACS Publications.

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