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The shadow-effect energy generator. In laboratory experiments, the harvested energy from the device in the presence of shadows created under indoor lighting conditions was sufficient to power a digital watch (1.2 V). Image: Royal Society of Chemistry Shadows have long been of little use to engineers, but researchers from the National University of Singapore (NUS) have created a device that makes use of this optical effect to generate electricity, demonstrating a novel way to harvest energy under low-light conditions. Called a shadow-effect energy generator, the device looks just like a miniature version of a silicon solar panel to most people, in that cells comprised of thin films of gold and silicon wafers are arranged on a plastic film. But instead of tapping the sun’s energy, the generator harnesses the contrast in illumination that arises on its cells from shadow castings. This contrast induces a voltage difference between shadowed and illuminated sections of the device, resulting in an electric current, explained research team leader Assistant Professor Tan Swee Ching of NUS’ Department of Materials Science and Engineering. The research breakthrough by the six-member team was reported in scientific journal Energy & Environmental Science last month. Tan said: “Shadows are omnipresent, […]

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