New photovoltaic generator runs on heat instead of sunlight
Photovoltaic cells, the basic unit of solar power systems, turn light into electricity. But fueling photovoltaics with sunlight isn't always practical. MIT scientists came up with a way around this issue: They found a really efficient way to turn heat into light.
Scientists have known for awhile that this is possible, but the MIT scientists figured out how to use a certain type of pitted material to force heat into generating the sort of wavelengths the PV cells love the most. Basically, it's as if this material turns grass into chocolate: both are forms of energy, but humans like to consume the latter a whole lot more than the former.
Researchers have used this technology to make a tiny power generator that runs on butane — basically a cigarette lighter that can charge your phone. They’ve also made a device that can power spaceships headed far away from the sun, which … should we be worried that this is what MIT scientists are working on?