Solar power is gradually becoming a major source of clean energy throughout the world, and with more nations attempting to transition away from fossil fuels, it has become a prominent subject of study for scientists looking for better alternative sources. However, as the name implies, the energy is virtually entirely reliant on the availability of sunshine in any given location. A new technology, however, has the potential to change this by enabling the production of solar electricity even at night.
A team of researchers from the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, were able to produce power utilizing technology similar to that used in night-vision goggles. The technique, which was characterized as ‘heat emitted as infrared light by a semiconductor device called a thermoradiative diode,’ produced a tiny amount of energy, but the researchers believe it may be tweaked to produce more in the future by utilizing existing photovoltaic technology.
‘Photovoltaics, or the direct conversion of sunlight into electricity, is an artificial technique that humans have devised to turn solar energy into power,’ Phoebe Pearce explains. ‘ In that way, the thermoradiative process is comparable; we are redirecting infrared energy from a warm Earth into a cold Universe. We have developed a clear demonstration of electrical power generated by a thermoradiative diode ‘, the University’s physicist remarked. While solar energy is now generated by collecting sunlight, the new technology will make use of the energy that the earth receives during the day and radiates back into space at night.