The new method is very simple. It takes advantage of the fact that some of the energy that hits the Earth during the day in the form of rays is reflected back into the atmosphere during the night as energy in the form of infrared light. That is what the Australians have now learned to capture.
Their system uses a so-called thermoradative diode, which they used to capture a very small amount of energy on the panel overnight, namely about a hundred thousand times less than a solar panel as large as this diode would absorb.
The authors admit that this result may seem unreasonably weak and therefore unusable, but they believe that this is just the beginning. “We managed to show that electricity can be obtained from a thermoradiode diode,” emphasized one of the authors of the project, Ned Ekins-Daukes. “We have created a device that can generate electricity from the emission of infrared thermal radiation.”
According to him, this process can be considered as the use of solar energy, because the device captures the radiation, which the Earth gets rid of at night after accumulating it during the day. Instead of returning energy to space in the form of infrared light, people can obtain it for the first time.
“Just as a solar cell can generate electricity by absorbing sunlight from a very hot sun, a thermoradiode diode produces electricity by emitting infrared light into a colder environment. In both cases, the temperature difference allows us to generate electricity, “said Phoebe Pearce, one of the study’s authors was published in the journal ACS Photonics.
The authors hope that this method can be improved so that it can be used commercially once. The beginnings of the whole of photovoltaics were also very modest: when the energy of the silicon solar cell was first obtained in 1954, the efficiency of this process was less than two percent. At present, it is over 23 percent.
The authors estimate that at least ten years of theoretical research will be needed before any research into practical application begins. But he believes that eventually their discovery could change energy.