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New perovskite material can convert heat, movement and sunlight into electricity

"This will push the development of the Internet of Things and smart cities, where power-consuming sensors and devices can be energy sustainable," researcher Yang Bai said.

By
Brooks Hays
Perovskite is a class of materials used to make photovoltaic cells. Photo by Craig Russell/Shutterstock
Perovskite is a class of materials used to make photovoltaic cells. Photo by Craig Russell/Shutterstock

Feb. 7 (UPI) -- In a newly published study, researchers in Finland detailed the ability of KBNNO, a type of perovskite, to convert heat, kinetic energy and sunlight into electricity.

Most perovskite materials are adept at energy conversion, though different perovskite materials typically specialize in a single type of energy conversion. Materials used in photovoltaic cells are efficient at deriving power from the sun's rays, but usually fail to convert temperature and pressure changes into electricity.

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Experiments conducted by materials scientists at the University of Oulu suggest KBNNO is multitalented.

Previous studies have highlighted the photovoltaic abilities of KBNNO, but less attention had been paid to the material's pyroelectric and and piezoelectric qualities -- a material's ability to convert changes in temperature and pressure, triggered by motion, into electricity.

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KBNNO is ferroelectric, like all perovskites, which means it is littered with tiny electric dipoles. These dipoles are like tiny compass needles. They become misaligned during shifts in temperature, creating an electric current.

Researchers had previously tested KBNNO's ferroelectric abilities at extremely low temperatures. The team from Oulu was the first to measure both KBNNO's ferroelectric and photovoltaic abilities at room temperature.

While KBNNO isn't the best at any one type of energy conversion, testing suggests it is relatively efficient at all three. What's more, the study's findings -- detailed in the journal Applied Physics Letters -- suggest the material can be improved.

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"It is possible that all these properties can be tuned to a maximum point," researcher Yang Bai said in a news release.

Bai and his colleagues hope to create a multi-energy-harvesting device in the near future.

"This will push the development of the Internet of Things and smart cities, where power-consuming sensors and devices can be energy sustainable," Bai said.

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