First Fully Transparent Solar Cell Could Make All Windows a Power Source

Solar panels. They are the big, black checkerboard things that sit on rooftops or in the middle of large open fields. Solar power has increased in popularity and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon.
According to Fortune magazine, “The amount of U.S. residential solar panels has been growing more rapidly (than the utility-scale solar market), and has been expanding across more states than ever before. The amount of home solar roofs grew 70% year-over-year for the most recent quarter, and went from four states with vibrant residential solar markets in 2013, to ten states today.”

Residential solar power is increasing in the US.

Image Credit: DecoDir

However, now there is a solar cell that is completely transparent. This means it can be used as windows for skyscrapers, arboretums, or even residential homes.
“To achieve a truly transparent solar cell, the Michigan State team created this thing called a transparent luminescent solar concentrator (TLSC), which employs organic salts to absorb wavelengths of light that are already invisible to the human eye. Steering clear of the fundamental challenges of creating a transparent photovoltaic cell allowed the researchers to harness the power of infrared and ultraviolet light.” (Digital Trends)

This clear solar cell uses organic salts to absorb invisible light waves.

Image Credit: MSU Today

This is the first solar cell that is fully clear. Other attempts were based on photovoltaic technology which does not allow for a clear cell.
“Previous claims toward transparent solar panels have been misleading, since the very nature of transparent materials means that light must pass through them. Transparent photovoltaic cells are virtually impossible, in fact, because solar panels generate energy by converting absorbed photons into electrons. For a material to be fully transparent, light would have to travel uninhibited to the eye which means those photons would have to pass through the material completely (without being absorbed to generate solar power).” (Digital Trends)
Top efficiency is expected to reach about 5%. This may seem low, but spread out over a whole skyscraper, this could make a big difference. They are also looking to the future by making sure this is a product that can be used in many different applications including residential homes.

Imagine a skyscraper made completely of solar cell glass.

Image Credit: NewSky24

“Researchers on the Michigan State team believe their TLSC technology could span from industrial applications to more manageable uses like consumer devices and handheld gadgets. Their main priorities in continuing to develop the technology appear to be power efficiency and maintaining a scalable level of affordability, so that solar power can continue to grow as a major player in the field of renewable energy.” (Digital Trends)
To learn more about the project, take a look at the video below!

Article Credits: DavidWolfe

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