Researchers from the National University of Singapore developed a device that can produce electricity from shadows, an unprecedented achievement in energy technology


According to Science News, researchers from the National University of Singapore have developed a device that can produce enough electricity from a shadow to run small gadgets. The device is called a shadow-effect energy generator and was created by placing a thin layer of gold on silicon – a typical solar cell material. When partially in the sun, the electrons flow from the high voltage side of the device to the low voltage side, the side shaded by an object. “With part of the device shaded, the voltage of the illuminated metal increases relative to the dark area and electrons in the generator flow from high to low voltage” (Science News). The current then flows through an external circuit which creates enough electricity to power small gadgets. ~

According to research team leader Assistant Professor Tan Swee Ching, who is from the National University of Singapore School of Materials Science and Engineering, this new shadow to electricity technology is brand new and unprecedented. “Shadows are omnipresent, and we often take them for granted.… In this work, we capitalized on the illumination contrast caused by shadows as an indirect source of power. The contrast in illumination induces a voltage difference between the shadow and illuminated sections, resulting in an electric current.” explained Ching (Tech Xplore). He believes this technology can be revolutionary not only in new technology but across fields. ~

Mobile electronic devices such as smartphones, smart glasses, and e-watches require an efficient and continuous power supply. With these devices being used both indoors and outdoors, this new shadow technology might prove to be very convenient and efficient. While solar-powered devices could supply the power needed for these devices outdoors, the ability of the shadow-effect energy generator to work both indoors and outdoors is very promising. 

“A lot of people think that shadows are useless,” Ching says. But “anything can be useful, even shadows” (Science News). ~

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