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Transformative? New Device Harvests Energy from Darkness

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Transformative? New Device Harvests Energy from Darkness


Aaswath Raman was driving through a village in Sierra Leone in 2013 when an idea came to him as suddenly as, perhaps, a light bulb switching on.

The village was not equipped with electricity, and Dr. Raman,an electrical engineer at the University of California, Los Angeles, was unaware he was in a village until he heard the voices of shadowed human figures.

“It took us about five minutes to realize we were passing through a town, because it was completely dark,” Dr. Raman said. “There wasn’t a single light on.”

Dr. Raman wondered whether he could use all that darkness to make something to light it up, not unlike the way that solar panels generate electricity from the sun’s heat and light.

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