Newcastle University Unveils Sustainable Breakthrough for IoT Devices

Newcastle University researchers have made a groundbreaking discovery in sustainable energy by developing environmentally-friendly photovoltaic cells that utilize ambient light to power Internet of Things (IoT) devices.

Harnessing the power of ambient light to fuel the ever-expanding world of Internet of Things (IoT) devices has long been a dream of scientists and engineers seeking sustainable solutions. Led by Dr Marina Freitag, a research group from the School of Natural and Environmental Sciences (SNES) achieved an impressive power conversion efficiency of 38% and an open-circuit voltage of 1.0V at 1,000 lux (fluorescent lamp) using dye-sensitized photovoltaic cells based on a copper(II/I) electrolyte. These cells are non-toxic and eco-friendly, setting a new standard for sustainable energy sources in ambient environments.

Published in the prestigious journal Chemical Science, this research has the potential to revolutionize the way IoT devices are powered, making them more sustainable and efficient and creating new opportunities in sectors such as healthcare, manufacturing, and smart city development.

Energy Efficiency

Dr Marina Freitag, the Principal Investigator at SNES, Newcastle University, highlighted the significance of this research, stating, “Our research marks an important step towards making IoT devices more sustainable and energy-efficient. By combining innovative photovoltaic cells with intelligent energy management techniques, we are paving the way for a multitude of new device implementations that will have far-reaching applications in various industries.”

IoT Devices
IoT Devices

In addition to developing high-efficiency photovoltaic cells, the team also introduced a pioneering energy management technique. This dynamic energy management system ensures that the energy-harvesting circuit operates at optimal efficiency, minimizing power losses and avoiding brownouts. They employed long short-term memory (LSTM) artificial neural networks to predict changing deployment environments and adjust the computational load of IoT sensors accordingly.

This breakthrough study showcases the potential of combining artificial intelligence with ambient light as a power source to enable the next generation of IoT devices by powering energy-efficient IoT sensors with high-efficiency ambient photovoltaic cells and dynamically adjusting their energy usage based on LSTM predictions, significant energy savings can be achieved, along with reduced network communication requirements.

IoT Devices

The implications of this research are vast. IoT sensors can operate wirelessly and autonomously in manufacturing, powered by sustainable energy sources, leading to enhanced productivity and cost savings. In healthcare, for example, IoT devices can be seamlessly powered by ambient light, reducing the need for frequent battery replacements and improving the overall efficiency of medical monitoring systems. Additionally, IoT devices can be deployed more extensively in the realm of smart city development, collecting data for various applications without significant strain on energy resources.

The research conducted by the Newcastle University team demonstrates the enormous potential for harnessing ambient light as a renewable energy source and utilizing artificial intelligence for optimizing energy consumption. Developing this high-efficiency, environmentally-friendly photovoltaic cells and intelligent energy management techniques represents a significant milestone in pursuing sustainable and efficient IoT devices. With further advancements and implementation of these technologies, a greener and more connected future is within our reach.

Andrea Nyilas is a Life Cycle Assessment and Sustainability Consultant and a Sustainability and Environmental journalist. She holds a Master of Science degree in Environmental Sciences and Policy from Central European University, in addition to a Master of Arts degree in Economics from the Corvinus University of Budapest. She is particularly interested in circular economy, natural resource management, and waste reduction.