An increasing use of smart devices has led researchers to develop environmentally friendly materials that could harvest enough energy from indoor light to power wireless smart devices. These materials could potentially be used to replace the batteries in our devices which we use in our everyday lives, such as the ones in our phones, wearable health devices and more. The batteries within current devices contain toxic and rare environmentally damaging chemicals.
"By efficiently absorbing the light coming from lamps commonly found in homes and buildings, the materials can turn light into electricity, with efficiency already in the range of commercial technologies" said co-author Dr Robert Hoye from Imperial College London.
"We have also already identified several possible improvements, which would allow these materials to surpass the performance of current indoor photovoltaic technologies in the near future."
The researchers from the University of Cambridge, Imperial College and Soochow University in China, found that the environmentally friendly ‘perovskite-inspired materials’ (a material based off safer elements like bismuth and antimony) were much more effective at absorbing indoor light than outdoor sunlight. Their other findings also reveal that the power provided by these materials under indoor illumination, is already sufficient enough to operate electric circuits.
In addition to their eco friendly nature, these materials could potentially be processed onto ‘unconventional substrates’ such as plastics and fabric, which could eventually lead to battery free wearables, healthcare monitoring, with potential use for smart homes and cities. The use of this technology would allow for the extension of the ‘operating lifetime’ for these devices, alongside helping to reduce maintenance costs.
“Our discovery opens up a whole new direction in the search for green, easy-to-make materials to sustainably power our smart devices,” said co-author Professor Vincenzo Pecunia from Soochow University.