Caveat: It’s a cold world

This is interesting. There’s a new thing being tested (invented): it’s called a negative illumination diode. It generates electricity in a way similar to the way a photovoltaic cell does, but instead of generating current from the incoming photons (from e.g. the sun), it generates electricity from the outgoing photons. Outgoing photons, you ask? There are always outgoing photons, on earth, because space is cold and the earth radiates heat (infrared photons) from all its surfaces, including from the diode in question. See here.



  1. David

    An interesting thought indeed.

    Yet looking at the stated theoretical maximum output of the devices (4W / sqm) in comparison to conventional PV technologies (>450W / sqm), it’s hard to see much commercial potential in the technology versus storage of energy produced by conventional PV technologies.

  2. I’m not sure commercial potential is entirely the point. It’s just interesting. There is energy all around us, it’s just a matter of extraction. I see this as possibly useful in the context of extremely long-term, low energy applications where battery life becomes problematic – perhaps robot-bases on other planets or data collection on remote mountaintops.

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