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‘Night-time solar’: University of New South Wales researchers hail breakthrough in clean power hopes

Scientists have hailed a huge breakthrough by Australian researchers that produces electricity from so-called “night-time solar” as a potential way to generate clean power around the clock — without the need for battery storage.

Project leader Associate Professor Ned Ekins-Daukes and his University of New South Wales team have used a semiconductor device called a thermoradiative diode, composed of materials found in night-vision goggles, to generate power from the emission of infrared light.

“What we’ve managed to achieve is make a little semiconductor device, which can divert some of the energy that the earth is radiating out into the cold universe and generate some electricity.”

The semiconductor currently generates a small amount of power which is around 100,000 times less than supplied by a solar panel. It is equivalent to the power of a wristwatch.

The research team is confident results can be improved in the future and is now looking to conduct a night-time test in Sydney.

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