In August 2014, researchers from Michigan State University had created a fully transparent solar concentrator that could in-turn any sheet of glass or window glass into a photovoltaic solar cell. Unlike other this one is really “transparent” unlike other solar cells that have been reported in the past. The transparent solar panels can deploy efficiently in a wide range of settings from “mobile devices to tall buildings with lots of windows.
Picture Courtesy: www.bloomberg.com
In Present day, Ubiquitous Energy is now getting closer to bring transparent solar panels to market. Richard Lunt, who is a cofounder of the company and assistant professor at Michigan State University for chemical engineering and materials science. Lunt’s team is changing the way the cell absorbs light instead of shrinking the components. While letting regular visible light to pass through, the cell selectively harvests part of the solar spectrum that we cannot see with our eye.
Solar cells, the photovoltaic kind makes energy by absorbing sunlight (photons) and converts them into electricity (electrons). If the material is transparent, by definition it means that complete light passes through the medium in order to strike the back of your eye.
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The prototype TLSC has an efficiency of around 1%, but in future the team is thinking to reach to 10 & would be possible once production starts. Non-transparent luminescent concentrators max out around 7%. These aren’t huge figures on their own, but on a larger scale every window in office block or a house — the numbers quickly add up. While we’re not talking about a technology that can keep our tablet or Smartphone running indefinitely, it could grant you a few more minutes of hours to use your Smartphone on a single battery charge by replacing your device’s display with a TLSC.
The Michigan State researchers are using a different technique to get around this limitation for gathering sunlight. They use a (TLSC) transparent luminescent solar concentrator instead of trying to create a transparent photovoltaic cell. The TLSC consists of organic salts which absorbs specific wavelengths of infrared and ultraviolet light, which they then glow as another wavelength of infrared light. This emitted infrared light is redirected to the plastic edge, where thin strips of conventional photovoltaic solar cell convert it into electricity.
It gives a lot of area to place solar energy in a non-intrusive way. It can be used on buildings having lots of windows or any kind of mobile device or e-reader.