Did you know that solar power can be generated during the night as well when there is no sun shining in the sky? Up till now, this was a big no, but now scientists think otherwise and believe that they just might be able to achieve this seemingly impossible concept. This one discovery can completely change the face of the energy sector.
The top minds from Harvard and MIT gathered together, and have proposed a new method of storing solar energy in molecular particles. These can be used for heating homes or cooking. Is this the most astonishing part? Actually no. Even better is the fact that you can use these molecules literally forever again and again. And since they emit no greenhouse gases, they are not even putting the environment at any risk.
As of right now, the idea still has to be demonstrated practically, but as far as laboratory tests are considered, successful results have been produced.
The main concept on which the entire proposition is based is photoswitching. According to one of the researchers, some molecules can assume two different shapes. These are termed as photoswitches. Now when these molecules are exposed to sunlight, they absorb energy, jump to a higher level and switch their configuration. Now in this state, they can remain stable for prolonged periods of time.
This molecular behavior is fairly similar to a rechargeable thermal battery. The molecules consumer energy from the sun, store it and then release it whenever there is a need.
In the experiments conducted in the lab, azobenzene was used as a photoswitching material. At a smaller scale, results have been achieved and the idea is viable. When transferring this onto a larger scale, there is a challenge involved. All the molecules must be packed fairly close together so that a sufficient amount of energy can be produced. But this is not the only thing. The carbon nanotubes which hold the molecules also have to be packed tightly together.
Researchers claim that if they use a different combination of photoswitching materials and nanotubes, they might be able to generate energy more easily. Work still has to be done on this, but the hopes are quite high.
Who knows tomorrow you might be completely off the grid and running your home on solar energy, generated by this very concept.