Manufacturing & Prototyping

'Smart' Harvester Captures Sunlight And Sends It Underground

A "smart" device from NTU Singapore  harvests daylight and relays it to underground spaces, reducing the need to draw on traditional energy sources for lighting.

The lightweight harvester has three components: an off-the-shelf acrylic ball, computer chip-assisted motors, and a single plastic optical fiber. Like the lens of a magnifying glass, the acrylic ball acts as the solar concentrator. The cable carries the focused sunlight from one end to the other, where the light is ultimately emitted. The motors automatically adjust the fiber's position to optimize sunlight amount.

Because of the device's compact size, the technology can potentially 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, the NTU researchers found the device to be more efficient and brighter than commercially available LED bulbs.