This was first proposed in a scientific study from 2019. Essentially, the idea is that the solar cell generates power from the heat it radiates at night. That study claimed a theoretical maximum efficiency of 4 watts/m2. A study released a few months ago claimed that it could instead generate up to 50 watts/m^2. The basic concept is apparently known as a thermoradiative cell, and has been described in other scientific studies like this and this.

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(Image taken from the second study)

The second study has received quite a lot of attention in articles like this one.

However, I haven't found any questions about this here. Is this actually a practical idea? Could this really compensate for the traditional weakness of solar power?

  • $\begingroup$ physics.stackexchange.com/questions/338113/… $\endgroup$
    – Paddy
    Jul 25, 2020 at 16:39
  • $\begingroup$ That's an interesting question, but it (and its answers) don't really answer my question. $\endgroup$
    – Pitto
    Jul 28, 2020 at 8:44
  • $\begingroup$ I don't understand a few concepts from the ACS paper. The paper says "We find that an ideal TR cell at 300 K coupled with a 3 K radiating body (deep space) has a maximum power output of 54 W/m2". I might be wrong because I just skimmed through the paper, but I did not come across parts where gradual cooling of the solar cell brings the cell to a state lot lesser than 300 K and hence, might bring down the power generated drastically. $\endgroup$
    – Paddy
    Jul 28, 2020 at 19:13


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