See-through solar technology represents ‘wave of the future’

See-through solar technology represents ‘wave of the future’

Engineers have developed a transparent solar material which could be used on windows to gather as much energy as bulkier rooftop solar units

The team behind the idea argue that this new wave of highly transparent solar applications – coupled with recently developed rooftop units – could meet the whole of the USA’s electricity demand and drastically reduce the use of fossil fuels.

Highly transparent solar cells represent the wave of the future for new solar applications… we analyzed their potential and show that by harvesting only invisible light, these devices can provide a similar electricity-generation potential as rooftop solar while providing additional functionality to enhance the efficiency of buildings, automobiles, and mobile electronics Richard Lunt, an associate professor of chemical engineering and materials science at Michigan State University

The new transparent luminescent solar concentrator can be placed on a window to create solar energy without disrupting the view.

Using a thin plastic-like material means that the device could be retrofitted for use on buildings, car windows, cell phones, or other devices with a clear surface.

The device works using organic molecules developed by Lunt and his team to absorb invisible wavelengths of sunlight.

This ingenious solar-harvesting system then allows Engineers to “tune” the material to pick up just the ultraviolet and the near-infrared wavelengths to convert energy into electricity.

Published as Emergence of highly transparent photovoltaics for distributed applications in Nature

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