The news that engineers invented a panel that generates electricity could be commonplace if not for one important circumstance. The fact is that Stanford engineers invent solar panel electricity at night, and that was a definite breakthrough in the development of solar panels.
It is worth familiarizing yourself with the mechanism of their functioning in more detail, which will make it possible to understand how engineers invented solar panel that generates electricity at night. Let’s proceed to the analysis of this invention.
Engineers Invented Solar Panel That Generates Energy at Night: How Did It Happen?
Solar panels have colder temperatures than the air at night, which means that the temperature difference makes it possible to produce electrical energy.
Source: AIP Publishing
It is worth noting that most researchers’ opinions on this topic differ. At some point, they believed that solar panels could only produce electricity during the daytime. A new development could change that, as Stanford engineers invented a panel that can operate at night efficiently enough to charge the phone or turn on LED lighting.
The first studies appeared in California in October of the year before last. The scientist Sid Assaworrarit and his colleagues could test their invention for several nights because the sky over California was clear then. He told journalists that such conditions were probably the best he’d seen all year and perfectly aligned with such experiments and their objectives.
Interestingly, Assaworrarit himself is not an expert in astronomy, he is an electrical engineer. He is an electrical engineer. However, the interest in a cloudless night in the context of solar panel research was related to something else. Clear weather guarantees that the infrared light emitted by solar panels can radiate unhindered into space.
So, what did it give in practice? The device the scientist and his colleagues developed is a conventional solar panel with a thermoelectric generator. That gives such a unit the ability to produce electricity due to the temperature difference between the air and panel’s surface.
Although the amount of electrics produced is small, the mechanism has become innovative and has opened up many opportunities for further similar experiments and improvement of panel parameters.
How Stanford Solar Panel Works
The news that engineers invented solar that generates electricity at night would be incomplete without looking at how it happens. As it turned out, scientists used the fact that during the day, sunlight hits the surface of the battery, and at night there is a process close to the opposite.
Someone may ask why this happens and on what basis such a conclusion is built. Naturally, there’s an answer to this question too. Solar panels have infrared radiation, like any object with zero temperature.
Light comes from the solar panel. And this makes it possible to use it to produce electrical energy at night. The photons that go out into the night sky enable the battery cooling. When this movement of photons into the sky occurs, heat is carried away. But such a pattern is possible only in cloudless weather.
When there are clouds in the sky, they bounce infrared radiation back toward the Earth’s surface. It means that on a clear night, the panel’s surface will be colder than the air. Stanford invented solar panel that generates electricity at night and, in such a way, exploited this discovery.
Summing up, we can outline how it all happens. The thermoelectric generator captures some of the heat from the warmer air and draws it to the surface of the cooled panel. Then, this heat converts into electrical energy. Now everyone who wondered how Stanford engineers invented solar that generates electricity at night will understand the principle of operation of the described device.
What About the Research?
Stanford engineers’ panel that generates electricity is the result of the painstaking work of researchers. But many people still wonder how the scientific tests were carried out.
Sid Assaworrarit tested his device using the roof of Stanford University for this. It is symbolic enough to use the building of a large research institution, where a group of scientists who have undertaken this experiment work. As a result, the device, tested on the university’s roof, showed its ability to generate approximately 50 milliwatts of electricity for every 1 m2 of the panel.
What does the Stanford panel that generates electricity at night give in practice?
Someone may have had a question about how such small indicators of electricity generation can be applied not in theory but in real life. Indeed, the effectiveness of an invention in its current capacity is more associated with theoretical development. However, the head of the group said he planned to focus on something other than this result.
Sid Assaworrarit was convinced that only a few actual improvements moved his invention away from the ability to generate twice as much electrical energy. At that moment, the researcher believed that the theoretical limit was 1-2 watts per 1 m2. Stanford engineers invented solar panel electricity that can be generated at night, an important discovery beyond what people knew about solar panels before.
The head of the research team noted that there are about a billion people on the globe who do not have access to an electrical network. That is why people people living in conditions without a centralized power grid could benefit from solar panels for their households and life.
Previously, such people could only rely on solar panels to work during the day. And if they have at least a small amount of electricity at night, this will open up much more opportunities for a comfortably furnished life.
The scientist believed that if it was possible to get 1 watt of electricity from 1 meter of the panel area, the operation of this device would be justified in terms of cost.
Stanford Engineers’ Invention of Solar Electricity: Physical Explanation
It is worth delving into this study from the point of view of physical processes. That will give an even better understanding of how Stanford engineers’ solar panel generates electricity.
This invention’s fundamental novelty lies in its use of an energy source that can be easily overlooked. Our planet generates a huge amount of infrared radiation, which, according to Sid Assaworrarit, is in some way light.
Even though we do not see this radiation, it carries energy. Moreover, a huge part of the solar energy that hits the Earth undergoes this process and then returns to space. In terms of physics, Stanford invented solar that generates electricity by capturing this energy as it leaves the Earth.
Stanford Engineers Invented Solar Panel That Generates Electricity by Combining Two Important Research Projects
It’s worth mentioning that Sid Assaworrarit and his team of like-minded people are not the first to decide to use a thermoelectric type of generator to capture the said type of electrical energy.
A similar experiment already took place in 2019. Nevertheless, this study contains a fairly significant innovation, and it lies in the fact that scientists have combined this generator with solar panels. Previously, such experiments did not occur.
What Are the Prospects for This Study?
Stanford engineers invented solar that generates electricity at night so that in the future this development could be more widely used and provide the life of many people with profitable electrical energy. Of course, its volumes are small, and the generation mechanism still needs improvement.
But in this case, the key factor is the instrument’s invention and operating principle. Further, scientists can only optimize what they have already partially come to.