We are used to solar panels which can harvest power from sunlight during the day. But how about a new type of solar cell that is able to generate power from raindrops, even when the rain falls in the middle of the night? Yes, it sounds impossible, but it’s actually just been demonstrated by researchers at China’s Soochow University.
The new type of solar panel incorporates a triboelectric nanogenerator (TENG), a means of converting mechanical energy, aka motion into electricity.
“Solar cells have become one of the most widespread solutions in the crisis issues of the environment and energy,” Zhen Wen, an assistant professor in the Institute of Functional Nano and Soft Materials at Soochow, told Digital Trends. “However, the power generation from a solar cell is affected by various weather conditions — for example, rainy weather. The intermittent and unpredictable nature of solar energy is an inevitable challenge for its expansion as a reliable power supply system. Scavenging alternative energy from the environment with different types of energy harvesters, to compensate for the insufficient part, is urgent.”