Producing electricity using the shadows

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by Esteban Tejedor

Posted on June 29, 2020

Producing electricity using the shadows

Solar panels have a main problem, they cannot always be used. They have to be outdoors and it has to be sunny.

A new device, developed by a team at the National University of Singapore, takes advantage of the difference between shadows and light to generate energy from darkness, so it is much more effective than solar panels.

Its generates energy when part of its solar cells are not receiving direct sunlight. This 'shadow effect' consists of the contrast of bright spots, those that receive light directly, and dark spots, which may be in the shade.

It is based on the same materials as a conventional solar panel, although with some differences. The shadow power generator is based on an incredibly thin layer of gold, arranged on the same silicon used in solar cells. And in the same way, when light hits silicon, it stimulates its electrons, which jump between silicon and gold.

The voltage of the illuminated part grows, with respect to the part that is in the shade, that causes the electrons to move from one area to another, generating current through an integrated circuit.

The interesting thing about this device is that it can provide electrical energy, even if the sun's rays do not fully impact its entire surface. This makes it ideal for powering devices that we use inside our homes, and that do not always receive light directly.

This is still a work in progress though, as for the moment, eight of these devices are necessary to keep a normal watch working. But it opens the doors to new alternatives to producing energy.


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