Soon on your windows : invisible solar panels

What if solar panels were completely transparent ? They could be placed over windows and could enable us to have self charging smartphones. Now that’s something great.

The astute and loyal reader will point thatI did write an article on a similar technology in October 2012 as Sharp presented transparent solar panels too. But they weren’t totally transparent. These ones are.

As the Michigan State University blog notes :

A team of researchers at Michigan State University has developed a new type of solar concentrator that when placed over a window creates solar energy while allowing people to actually see through the window.

It is called a transparent luminescent solar concentrator and can be used on buildings, cell phones and any other device that has a clear surface.

And, according to Richard Lunt of MSU’s College of Engineering, the key word is “transparent.”

Research in the production of energy from solar cells placed around luminescent plastic-like materials is not new. These past efforts, however, have yielded poor results – the energy production was inefficient and the materials were highly colored.

“No one wants to sit behind colored glass,” said Lunt, an assistant professor of chemical engineering and materials science. “It makes for a very colorful environment, like working in a disco. We take an approach where we actually make the luminescent active layer itself transparent.”

The solar harvesting system uses small organic molecules developed by Lunt and his team to absorb specific nonvisible wavelengths of sunlight.

“We can tune these materials to pick up just the ultraviolet and the near infrared wavelengths that then ‘glow’ at another wavelength in the infrared,” he said.

That’s neat. I am waiting for this technology to show up in our day-to-day lives. Just like graphene  or aerogel and other great stuff I have been writing about…

By Edouard

Edouard is a sustainability and energy professional committed to bringing our societies to a carbon neutral future. He has been writing on related topics on this very blog since 2007.

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