As solar power becomes a bigger part of our overall energy mix, scientists are working on more efficient ways of storing the power of the Sun for use during the night-time, or on particularly cloudy days. And now a new type of material has been developed that can do just that – store solar energy when it’s in abundance, and release it as heat later on as required.

The transparent polymer film developed by a team from MIT can be applied to many surfaces, including glass and clothing. So imagine a warm jumper that goes with you from room to room, so there’s no need to fiddle with your central heating controls. Or a windshield overlay system that can burn away the ice on your car first thing in the morning, thanks to energy it had built up from the previous day.

“This work presents an exciting avenue for simultaneous energy harvesting and storage within a single material,” the University of Toronto’s Ted Sargent, who wasn’t involved in the research, told MIT News. “The approach is innovative and distinctive.”

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New material can harvest sunlight by day and release heat at night

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