Tech UPTechnologyA new material that stores the sun's heat

A new material that stores the sun's heat

Imagine you have a sweater with a thermal regulator: no more wearing multiple layers of clothing, like an onion! If it’s colder, you increase the temperature of the thermostat and that’s it . Or that the windshield of your car stores the heat from the sun and automatically releases it to melt the ice on a frosty winter morning.

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) believe such scenes will be possible in the not too distant future thanks to their latest invention: a transparent polymer that captures solar energy and stores it for later use. Unlike existing technologies, it does not transform this energy into electricity, but rather conserves it in a stable molecular configuration for long periods of time , so that it can be reused as is by means of a chemical reaction when necessary.

As MIT researchers explain in the journal Advanced Energy Materials , previously it had only been possible to store solar heat in this way in liquid compounds. The new polymer capable of doing this is ultra-thin and transparent, so it can discreetly integrate fabrics or glass , for example, and raise its temperature up to 20 degrees Celsius.

The scientific key to this advance is the molecules of some materials (called azobenzenes) that are charged when they receive solar energy and return to their original state with a simple stimulus in the form of temperature, light or electricity, generating heat in the process. At the moment, MIT experts are trying to solve problems such as the transparency of the polymer (they still have a little yellowish left) and the optimization of its ability to radiate heat.

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