Researchers create electricity from shadows

Date:8 June 2020 Author: Leila Stein

The Shadow-Effect Energy Generator (SEG) is a real prototype device which turns shadows into electricity. It has been floated as an indoor device which could produce some renewable energy.

A team from NUS Materials Science and Engineering and NUS Physics published their work on this prototype, explaining how it works and what its effectiveness is like in the Energy & Environmental Science journal.

In the abstract, the researchers explain that the device “scavenges the illumination contrast that arises on the device from shadow castings, and generates a direct current, simply by placing a part of the generator in shadow.”

However, unlike solar panels, the researchers found that SEG works best when exposed to the contrast of shadow and light rather than full shadow. They found it was twice as effective under a shifting shadow compared to complete cover.

“When the whole SEG cell is under illumination or in shadow, the amount of electricity generated is very low or none at all. When a part of the SEG cell is illuminated, a significant electrical output is detected. We also found that the optimum surface area for electricity generation is when half of the SEG cell is illuminated and the other half in shadow, as this gives enough area for charge generation and collection respectively,” said co-team leader Professor Andrew Wee, who is from NUS Physics.

The team believe this small amount of power could provide energy for small home devices such a smartphones.

Image: Royal Society of Chemistry

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