The Internet of Things (IoT) has boosted the demand for self-sustained devices that can sense and transmit signals. However, powering up the multitude of devices remains a practical challenge. Nitride-based diodes can both absorb and emit at visible wavelengths, which makes them suitable for harvesting energy from ambient light and converting electrical energy back to visible emission when a proper voltage is applied over the diode. Researchers of the Grünberg Research Centre in Nanjing, China have combined nitride multiple-quantum-well diodes with a capacitor to create a light-driven battery. Two III-nitride-on-silicon diodes linked in series act as solar cells and charge the capacitor. The miniature circuit includes a switch that can release the stored energy into blue light from one of the diodes. The self-powered light source is a step towards energy-efficient visible-light communication and autonomous smart nodes for IoT.
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