Technology 2 min read

New Solar Device Harvests Energy From Sun and Beams Heat Into Space

In a new breakthrough discovery, researchers have created a device capable of harvesting the sun's energy and blasting excess heat into space. If scalable, this could greatly aid our efforts in fighting climate change.

Professor Shanhui Fan and postdoctoral scholar Wei Li atop the Packard Electrical Engineering building with the apparatus that is proving the efficacy of a double-layered solar panel. The top layer uses the standard semiconductor materials that go into energy-harvesting solar cells, the novel materials on the bottom layer perform the cooling task. | Image credit: L.A. Cicero

Professor Shanhui Fan and postdoctoral scholar Wei Li atop the Packard Electrical Engineering building with the apparatus that is proving the efficacy of a double-layered solar panel. The top layer uses the standard semiconductor materials that go into energy-harvesting solar cells, the novel materials on the bottom layer perform the cooling task. | Image credit: L.A. Cicero

Researchers have developed a new solar device that can harvest the sun’s energy and beam it back into space.

For years, scientists have warned that the world is getting hotter and hotter due to the constant emission of carbon. However, a team of researchers from Stanford University has invented a solar device that could potentially solve the world’s global warming problem.

The solar panel technology can still harvest energy from the sun and convert it into usable electricity. However, what makes the device more useful is its capability to beam any excess heat into space at the same time.

“We’ve built the first device that one day could make energy and save energy, in the same place and at the same time, by controlling two very different properties of light,” Shanhui Fan, an electrical engineer from the Stanford University, explained.

How the Solar Device Works

Fan’s solar panel technology has the same components as the standard solar panels of today. The team built the device with the same semiconductor materials capable of converting visible light into electricity. They then added a bottom layer capable of beaming the excess heat into space.

The team created the bottom layer out of materials that can beam away heat into space through a radiative cooling process. Fan’s technology takes advantage of the holes found in our planet’s thick atmospheric blanket.

The new solar technology was invented using materials previously developed to convert the heat radiating from buildings into an infrared wavelength that can penetrate the atmospheric blanket. Fan and his colleague, Zhen Chen, created a prototype of the device and put it on top of a Stanford building.

Initial results of the experiment revealed that the sun-facing part of the solar panel becomes hotter as it absorbs light while the bottom layer remains cooler than the air on the building’s rooftop.

“This shows that heat radiated up from the bottom, through the top layer, and into space,” Chen said.

The team has not yet tested if the solar device can produce electricity. However, they are currently designing solar cells to integrate into the solar device.

Do you believe that beaming back heat into outer space is the solution we need to prevent global warming?

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Rechelle Ann Fuertes

Rechelle is an SEO content producer, technical writer, researcher, social media manager, and visual artist. She enjoys traveling and spending time anywhere near the sea with family and friends.

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