Can you imagine if every window in the city produced electricity?
We can. It would mean a much cleaner, and affordable source of energy.
Last year, researchers at Michigan State University created a transparent solar concentrator, which could turn any window or sheet of glass into a solar cell. The glass absorbs light by selectively harvesting a part of the solar spectrum we can’t see with human eyes. Solar cells called “Photovoltaic” make energy by absorbing sunlight and converting them into electricity. This is a breakthrough for researchers, as up to just recently, we we could only absorb energy through more opaque cells.
“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 major difference is called the transparent luminescent solar concentrator – also knowns as TLSC for those who need to add one more abbreviation in their lexicon. The Near-infrared (NIR) harvesting TLSC with non-tinted transparency are demonstrated by exploiting the excitonic nature of organic luminescent salts.A more detailed explanation can be found here.
While the latest transparent solar cells do not produce much electricity, the technological direction we’re heading in is promising. Elon Musk has been quoted, “Solar power [with] batteries will be the primary (not exclusive) means of sustainable energy production.” Up to now, we’re still at the infancy of tech innovation enabling us to fully utilize the largest energy source we have: the sun. That said, there’s a ton of research and innovation happening in solar.
How much more convenient do you think your life will become with the integration of glass solar cells? Share your thoughts below!