Ambient light powers IoT devices

  • April 26, 2023
  • Steve Rogerson

Researchers have created high-efficiency, sustainable solar cells that harness ambient light to power IoT devices.

Led by Marina Freitag, the research group from Newcastle University’s School of Natural & Environmental Sciences in the UK created dye-sensitised photovoltaic cells based on a copper (II/I) electrolyte, achieving an unprecedented power conversion efficiency of 38% and 1.0V open-circuit voltage at 1000 lux (fluorescent lamp). The cells are non-toxic and environmentally friendly, setting a standard for sustainable energy sources in ambient environments.

Published in the journal Chemical Science, the research has the potential to change the way IoT devices are powered, making them more sustainable and efficient, and opening up opportunities in industries such as healthcare, manufacturing and smart city development.

“Our research marks an important step towards making IoT devices more sustainable and energy-efficient,” said Freitag. “By combining innovative photovoltaic cells with intelligent energy management techniques, we are paving the way for a multitude of new device implementations that will have far-reaching applications in various industries.”

The team also introduced an energy management technique, employing long short-term memory (LSTM) artificial neural networks to predict changing deployment environments and adapt the computational load of IoT sensors accordingly. This dynamic energy management system enables the energy-harvesting circuit to operate at optimal efficiency, reducing power losses or brownouts.

This study demonstrates how the synergy of artificial intelligence and ambient light as a power source can enable future IoT devices. The energy-efficient IoT sensors, powered by high-efficiency ambient photovoltaic cells, can dynamically adapt their energy usage based on LSTM predictions, resulting in significant energy savings and reduced network communication requirements.