July 24, 2024
'Indoor Solar Power' Emerges as a Solution for the Internet of Things

‘Indoor Solar Power’ Emerges as a Solution for the Internet of Things

The Internet of Things (IoT) has revolutionized the way we interact with devices in our homes, from security systems to everyday appliances. However, one common drawback of these devices is their reliance on electrical cords or batteries, leading to the inconvenience of tangled cords or the need for frequent battery replacements. In an exciting development, researchers have now brought solar panel technology indoors, providing a sustainable and renewable power source for smart devices. This breakthrough, reported in ACS Applied Energy Materials, explores the use of photovoltaic (PV) systems that are optimized for indoor lighting, specifically cool white LEDs.

Indoor lighting differs significantly from natural sunlight. While sunlight contains ultraviolet, infrared, and visible light, indoor lights typically emit light from a narrower region of the spectrum. Traditional PV solar panels are designed to harness power from sunlight, but they are not efficiently optimized for converting indoor light into electrical energy. To address this, scientists have explored next-generation PV materials like perovskite minerals and organic films, which have shown potential in converting non-natural light into electricity. However, the most efficient material for this purpose remains unclear, as previous studies have used different types of indoor lights to test PVs made from various materials. To shed light on this topic, a team led by Uli W├╝rfel conducted a comprehensive comparison of different PV technologies under the same type of indoor lighting.

The researchers obtained eight types of PV devices, including traditional amorphous silicon and thin-film technologies like dye-sensitized solar cells. They measured the ability of each material to convert light into electricity, first under simulated sunlight and then under a cool white LED light source. Interestingly, gallium indium phosphide emerged as a promising material, showcasing its potential for applications beyond solar power. However, the researchers noted that gallium-containing materials are expensive and may not be suitable for mass production in powering smart home systems. On the other hand, perovskite minerals and organic film PV cells prove to be cost-effective alternatives that exhibit stability under indoor lighting conditions. Furthermore, the study revealed that a portion of the indoor light energy is converted into heat instead of electricity. This valuable insight will aid in optimizing future PV technologies for indoor devices.

The integration of indoor solar power into the IoT has the potential to address the inconvenience and environmental impact of traditional power sources. By harnessing the power of indoor lighting, smart devices can become more sustainable and efficient. However, further research and development are needed to refine and enhance the performance of PV technologies for indoor applications.

This study was made possible through funding from various organizations, including the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (U.K.), the European Regional Development Fund, the Welsh European Funding Office, First Solar Inc., the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, and the German Research Foundation.

1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
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