Scientists in Singapore hope to perfect a new method of power generation that is largely shadow-powered, hoping that one day it could help highly urbanized cities to strengthen themselves.
The Shadow-Effect Energy Generator (SEG) developed by the National University of Singapore has the potential to use electricity like solar cells, but without the need for open spaces with uninterrupted light.
In order to work effectively, the SEG needs both light and darkness and, like solar panels, relies on light to shine on silicon and supply electrons with energy.
When using panels with a thin layer of gold, silver, platinum, or tungsten, the difference in light intensity drives electrons from illuminated areas toward shadows and generates electricity in the shaded areas.
"Our shadow effect generator is convenient. It can be placed in these areas to harvest obstructed light," said Dr. Swee Ching Tan, head of the research team.
Research is still at an early stage, but Tan's team is already considering the potential to start a business to make SEG available for home use.
The panels tested by the team are approximately 6 cm² in size and can only generate 0.25 volts. This means that about 20 volts are needed to power a light bulb or to charge a cell phone.
The ideal environment for use would be cities, Tan said, with constantly changing levels of light and shadow throughout the day from clusters of tall buildings and the changing position of the sun in the sky.
"It is not practical to place solar panels in such cities, so the device can be useful in places like very densely populated cities with skyscrapers everywhere and shadows are always persistent," said Tan.
(Reporting by Joseph Campbell; editing by Martin Petty and Christopher Cushing)
(This story was not edited by NDTV staff and is generated automatically from a syndicated feed.)