By Marlene Cimons Scientist Aaswath Raman long has been keen on discovering new sources of clean energy by creating novel materials that can make use of heat and light. And lately, he has focused on developing better cooling systems, perhaps inspired by childhood summer visits to his grandparents in Mumbai, where the temperature can hover at 100 degrees F with killer humidity — and where his family refused to add an air conditioner. "It’s not unusually different from Miami, I suppose — just a bit challenging without air conditioning," he said. His interests in clean energy and cooling led him to learn about a phenomenon called "radiative cooling," which is when objects facing up shed heat into the sky after dark, cooling the surrounding area. This "aha" moment also recently led to his developing a pollution-free source of electricity. "I was blown away by how this natural, passive cooling mechanism was ubiquitous, but something I’d never heard of," he said. Even more surprising was learning that the concept was centuries old. Ancient Middle Eastern civilizations–especially the Persians–used radiative cooling to make ice, pouring water into a pool as the sun set, collecting the frozen chunks the next morning. Even […]

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