Solar Energy Windows Let the Light Shine In
One of the few potential problems with solar energy is where to set up the technology to ensure maximum exposure with minimal hassle. We wrote about solar energy paint as one possible solution to that problem.
Now, researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) working in conjunction with a team at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) have created transparent solar cells that could allow windows to act as solar generators.
The study’s findings were recently published in the journal “ACS Nano.” The breakthrough is based on polymer solar cells (PSCs), which work by gathering infrared light, rather than visible spectrum light. This allows the cells to appear nearly 70% transparent to the human eye.
“These results open the potential for visibly transparent polymer solar cells as add-on components of portable electronics, smart windows and building-integrated photovoltaics and in other applications,” said study leader Yang Yang, a UCLA professor of materials science and engineering and director of the Nano Renewable Energy Center at California Nano Systems Institute (CNSI).
According to Yang, PSCs are lightweight, flexible and can be produced in high volume at low cost. The new solar cells are only part of the equation, however. The other part is the creation of transparent conductors made of a mixture of silver nanowire and titanium dioxide nanoparticles. These conductors were able to work in place of opaque metal electrodes and provide a 4% power-conversion efficiency in combination with PSC.
Speaking completely as a bystander here, I wonder if real progress in using solar energy to fill a large portion of a building’s power needs could found by using PSC, along with a coat of the solar energy paint and maybe a couple solar energy stacks on the roof?
Below you’ll find a video about PSC recorded when UCLA first delved into the technology.