MIT researchers recently designed new photovoltaic-powered sensors cells that could eventually replace battery powered sensors. These cells could power the sensors in every light condition from bright sunlight and dimmer indoor environments. More importantly, the team found that solar power actually gives the sensors a major power boost that enables greater data-transmission distances, along with the ability to integrate multiple sensors onto a single RFID tag. The article below takes a deep dive into the technology, how it is built, and exactly how it works.
By 2025, experts estimate the number of “internet of things” devices — including sensors that gather real-time data about infrastructure and the environment — could rise to 75 billion worldwide. As it stands, however, those sensors require batteries that must be replaced frequently, which can be problematic for long-term monitoring.
MIT researchers have designed photovoltaic-powered sensors that could potentially transmit data for years before they need to be replaced. To do so, they mounted thin-film perovskite cells — known for their potential low cost, flexibility, and relative ease of fabrication — as energy-harvesters on inexpensive radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags.