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Common Solar Tech Can Power Smart Devices Indoors, NIST Study Finds

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The silicon photovoltaic module.

The researchers found that the silicon photovoltaic module, while less efficient than others tested, still provided more electricity to a sensor than the sensor used to operate.

Credit: NIST

Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) studying the indoor charging capability of small modular photovoltaic (PV) devices determined that a mini modular PV device made of silicon, absorbing only light from an LED, supplied more power to a wireless temperature sensor than the sensor consumed in operation.

They said this indicates it is possible to power Internet of Things devices with PV modules.

The researchers found the silicon module converted 9.3% of the LED light into electrical power, compared to power conversion efficiency rates of 23.1% for gallium indium phosphide (GaInP) and 14.1% for gallium arsenide (GaAs) modules.

NIST's Andrew Shore said, "Even with a less-efficient mini module, we found that we could still supply more power than the wireless sensor consumed."

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