Published on 31 Mar 2021

Bright idea: 'Smart’ device to harvest daylight

Device can be used to illuminate dark, underground spaces in daytime

A team of NTU Singapore researchers has designed a ‘smart’ device to harvest daylight and relay it to underground spaces, reducing the need to draw on traditional energy sources for lighting.

In Singapore, authorities are looking at the feasibility of digging deeper underground to create new space for infrastructure, storage, and utilities. Demand for round-the-clock underground lighting is therefore expected to rise in the future.

To meet this need sustainably, the NTU team developed a ‘smart’ device using an off-the-shelf acrylic ball, a single plastic optical fibre – a type of cable that carries a beam of light from one end to another - and computer chip-assisted motors. The device is lightweight and compact, making it extremely suitable to be incorporated into existing infrastructure in the urban environment, such as on top of a conventional lamp post.

In experiments in a pitch-black storeroom (to simulate an underground environment), the NTU researchers found the device to be more efficient than LED bulbs, with it, for example, being more than two times brighter than commercially available LEDs.

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