Thanks to this invention, it will be possible to produce solar energy at night

One of the few disadvantages solar energy It is of course a limited production capacity because it cannot be captured at night. However, a team from the School of Photovoltaic and Renewable Energy Engineering, belonging to the University of New South Wales (UNSW), in Australia, finally achieved break that barrier.

How could they generate solar energy in the middle of the night? They turned to infrared rays. Thanks to a semiconductor device called a “thermoradiating diode”, this is possible produce solar energy from infrared radiation. Most curious of all, his invention integrates technology that is not new at all. In fact, they use components that have been found in night vision goggles for years.

These components include thermographic chambers, with which it is possible to measure the temperature of an object without the need for contact with it. But they are also used to observe infrared radiation.

“Just as a solar cell can generate electricity by absorbing sunlight, a thermoradiative diode generates electricity by emitting infrared light in a cooler environment. In both cases, the temperature difference is what allows us to generate electricity.”


It is worth noting that at this time The amount of solar energy produced by your device is relatively small. Specifically, 100,000 less than a regular solar panel can generate.

The first step of something revolutionary

produce solar energy from infrared radiation

However, the above did not prevent it from raising enthusiasm among researchers. First, because they just proved something that was a simple theory just a few years ago. On the other hand, this It’s just the first step work that can improve over time until you have a device that produces more solar energy. Why not think that this solution will become the standard for power generation in adverse weather conditions in the future?

“The UNSW team’s breakthrough is an exciting confirmation of a previously theoretical process and is also the first step towards making specialized and much more efficient devices that could one day capture energy on a much larger scale.”


produce solar energy from infrared radiationproduce solar energy from infrared radiation
Thermoradiation diode

Ned Ekins-Daukes, a member of the aforementioned academic institution, believes that this invention is as important as when the functionality of the silicon solar cell was demonstrated in 1954. At that time, it had only 2% power generation efficiency. Today, this percentage has increased to 23%.

These are big words, no doubt, and show the confidence the tech team has in the advancements they can make soon. The room for improvement is wide and they will take advantage of it..

“Although the commercialization of these technologies is still a long way off, being at the beginning of an idea in the evolution process is very exciting for a researcher. By using our knowledge of how to design and optimize solar cells and relying on materials from the community for already existing technologies, such as the mid-infrared photodetector, we hope to move quickly towards the dream of nighttime solar power production,” added Dr. Michael Nielsen, one of the main architects of the research.

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