Solar Panels are one of the most exciting new trendsetters of the energy production industry. They use light energy to generate electricity with the use of semiconducting materials. Though this process is at the core of Solar technology, it is also its main drawback. Light is in scarce supply during nighttime, so solar energy cannot be used individually to sustain electricity needs, for let’s say emergency purposes. This drawback is still a good thing as we are making progress in finding alternative methods for energy production.
The symmetry between heat and cold
There exists asymmetry between heat and cold. Cold is defined as the absence of heat. And it is from this fundamental property that we could be able to generate electricity from the thermodynamics at play. Generally, solar panels use the incoming solar radiation to energize microparticles and conduct electricity, but what if the opposite can also be done? What if there could be energy harvested from the outgoing of radiation? This was always a debated concept, but the beautiful world of electromagnetism has always allowed room for miracles.
Electricity and heat are just different forms of energy
We are taught that electricity, heat, light, sound, magnetism and many others are fundamentally the same things- energy. So if there can be a transfer of energy between molecules when the heat arrives into a substance, then there should also be at transfer when heat leaves substances. Now is where the fun starts. An international group of scientists has experimented on this aspect by placing an ‘infrared semiconductor device’ on the Earth. It faces the sky. The temperature difference between space and the Earth makes the heat escape from the device according to the laws of physics. This is called negative illumination effect. This effect, in turn, makes the semiconductor harvest electricity as heat leaves its surface.
How much can we generate?
The team of scientists generated about 64 nanowatts per square meter. It is a very tiny amount of electricity but it is a monumental proof that this technology could exist. The possibilities are in fact endless. When studied further, this technology will lead to the optimization of the materials used and a subsequent increase in the amount of electricity generated. For now, we could come up with a better name for this technology. How about ‘Polar generator’? ‘Icy DC’? Any names you could come up with are also accepted! Write to us with the best ones you can come up with!
The world of physics has some very interesting things to offer. It keeps giving more and more technology that we could use to make the world a better place. What was once theoretically impossible, has now been proved to be no doubt possible, but will there be an improvement in the new, groundbreaking technology of generating electricity or even any form of usable energy with the help of the absence of heat? Only time will tell!