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08-12-2021

Ambient light could be used to power our devices

During the recent American Institute of Physics Energy Storage and Conversion virtual conference, researchers Andrew Shore and Behrang Hamadan presented findings that may very will impact how we use our devices – powering them from ambient light in our own homes. 

It’s no secret that renewable energy sources – such as wind, water, and solar – are the future. But precisely what form that future may take is always shifting.

Using one LED calibrated to to give off the light and color of a normal indoor light, the researchers tested how much power three different modules generated by absorbing ambient light. Gallium indium sulphide, gallium arsenide, and silicon semiconductors were used. 

The results? Andrew Shore provides some answers. “Under these light settings, the GaInP mini module performed with the highest power conversion efficiency, followed by the GaAs mini module, with the Si mini module as the lowest performer. The GaInP and GaAs modules have a better spectral match with this visible-spectrum LED light source.” 

Shore cautions that what is true for LEDs may not be true of all light sources. “Fluorescent lights have several spikes in intensity at different places in the visible spectrum. LED lights generally have one short, prominent peak around 450 nanometers and another more gradual peak around 600 nm. Each of these light sources will affect the power conversion efficiency of the photovoltaic technology.” 

All of the semiconductors are viable under normal indoor lighting conditions. This means that many of our devices that require smaller amounts of energy will be charged through the simple flick of switch, though the authors intend to test the different semiconductors under real-world conditions – ambient light conditions that may perhaps be more inconsistent than normal laboratory ones. 

Shore and Hamadan’s presentation,  “Indoor photovoltaics for battery-powered sensors,” may very well pave the way for one of a myriad of ways we power our future. 

By Alex Ruger, Earth.com Staff Writer

 

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