Scientists at MIT have developed a new solar power system that doesn’t need sunlight as its source. They have developed a new photovoltaic energy conversion system, driven by heat, sun’s rays, a hydrocarbon fuel or a decaying radioisotope. Compared to the lithium–ion battery, this button-sized generator battery can run three times longer, giving high efficiency.
The discovery is not a new one, since the engineers have used the surface of a material to convert heat into wavelengths of light. But the innovative method developed by MIT is much more efficient than the previous methods.
According to Physical Review A, the new material having billions of nanoscale pits on its surface is used. This pitted material absorbs heat and radiates energy precisely at selected wavelengths, depending upon the pit’s size. It gives the hope that it can be used in the power generation of spacecraft for long term missions where sunlight is unavailable.
Ivan Celanovic, research engineer in MIT’s Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies (ISN), has been quoted as saying:
Being able to convert heat from various sources into electricity without moving parts would bring huge benefits…especially if we could do it efficiently, relatively inexpensively and on a small scale.
Celanovic believes that his team could triple the efficiency of their prototype. The prototype is in fact being seen as a good example of how “fundamental research in materials can result in new performance that enables a whole spectrum of applications for efficient energy conversion.”
Space technology is now looking for new ways to generate power for the spacecraft more efficiently. Hope this inspiring discovery will be a boost in this domain.