Technology has embedded deep in our lifestyle. We increasingly use more smart devices, smart speakers, and wearables in our homes and offices.
All these devices use some types of battery: some rechargeable and other single-use. These batteries contain toxic and dangerous chemicals that are unsafe for the environment. Also, a great deal of energy is required for the manufacture, re-cycle, and disposal of batteries.
What if there is a better and more safe way to power the devices? One way would be to harvest the energy from indoor lights emitted from ordinary light bulbs, similar to how a solar panel generates energy from sunlight. But the solar panels are not suitable for generating energy from indoor light sources.
A discovery made by researchers from the Imperial College London, Soochow University in China, and the University of Cambridge has found that a new green material currently being developed for the next-gen solar panels can harvest energy from indoor lights. Their findings are reported in Advanced Energy Materials.
The researchers investigated perovskite-inspired materials. Perovskites are cheaper than silicon-based solar panels, and some outperform in terms of efficiency. However, lead toxicity and water solubility prevent them from widespread implementation. Perovskite-inspired materials were developed for the next-generation solar cells and are made of safe elements like bismuth and antimony.
Even though Perovskite-inspired materials are safe for the environment, they are not as efficient as the silicon-based cells in absorbing sunlight.
The research team found that these materials are more effective in absorbing indoor lights. The efficiency they offer is promising for commercial applications, and the materials generate enough power to operate electronic devices.
According to the Co-author Professor Vincenzo Pecunia, from Soochow University, their discovery opens up a new direction in the search of green materials to power smart devices. Perovskite-inspired materials could soon enable battery-free devices for wearables, healthcare monitoring, smart homes, and smart cities.
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