New green materials could power smart devices using ambient light


18-11-2020
  Light bulbs  Credit: Luis Tosta on Unsplash

Researchers have developed environmentally friendly materials that could harvest enough energy from indoor light to power wireless smart devices.

We are increasingly using more smart devices like smartphones, smart speakers, and wearable health and wellness sensors in our homes, offices, and public buildings. However, the batteries they use can deplete quickly and contain toxic and rare environmentally damaging chemicals, so researchers are looking for better ways to power the devices.

One way to power them is by converting indoor light from ordinary bulbs into energy, in a similar way to how solar panels harvest energy from sunlight, known as solar photovoltaics. However, due to the different properties of the light sources, the materials used for solar panels are not suitable for harvesting indoor light.

Now, researchers from the University of Cambridge, Imperial College London and Soochow University in China have discovered that new green materials currently being developed for next-generation solar panels could be useful for indoor light harvesting. They report their findings in Advanced Energy Materials.

“By efficiently absorbing the light coming from lamps commonly found in homes and buildings, the materials can turn light into electricity with an efficiency already in the range of commercial technologies,” said co-author Dr Robert Hoye from Imperial College London. “We have also already identified several possible improvements, which would allow these materials to surpass the performance of current indoor photovoltaic technologies in the near future.”

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Image: Light bulbs

Credit: Luis Tosta on Unsplash

Reproduced courtesy of the University of Cambridge

 

 

The University of Cambridge is acknowledged as one of the world's leading higher education and research institutions. The University was instrumental in the formation of the Cambridge Network and its Vice- Chancellor, Professor Stephen Toope, is also the President of the Cambridge Network.

University of Cambridge (cam.ac.uk)