The future of solar is bright, but what if I tell you that it is also completely clear? This is the possibility that we could expect in the coming years thanks to the development of fully transparent solar cells.
A bunch of researchers at the Michigan State University are the brains behind this new invention. What is so significant about this invention? Let’s find out:
Transparent Solar Cells
Solar energy is harnessed by means of photovoltaic (PV) solar cells. They harness energy by absorbing photons (sunlight) and converting them into electrons (electricity).
The fact that these cells absorb light implies that they cannot be transparent. This is because when a material is said to be transparent, it means that light passes through the material, instead of being absorbed by it.
This was the deficiency that the research team, then headed by Richard Lunt tried to overcome. For this, they developed a fully transparent solar concentrator, technically termed as Transparent Luminescent Solar Concentrator (TLSC).
His team used organic salts that absorbs certain invisible wavelengths of light (UV – ultraviolet and IR – infrared). This light luminesces/ glows as another wavelength of IR light which is then guided to the edge of the ‘invisible’ material.
The edge of the material is composed of thin strips of PV cells, which convert the invisible wavelength of light into electricity.
How Are They Advantageous?
The non-transparent nature of conventional solar cells makes it quite difficult to be integrated into a wide range of settings. However, the very nature of these transparent solar cells makes it possible to overcome this difficulty.
They are also cost-effective in that it doesn’t come with extra charges of installation like a normal PV cell. The fact that it can be made even in room temperature settings makes its production eco-friendly as well.
Imagine having an entire sky-scraper powered by windows made of these transparent solar panels. The original design is maintained and you have an efficiently powered system in place – that is how advantageous these cells are!
The Future Of These Cells
A start-up from MIT called Ubiquitous Energy is gearing up to bring these cells into the commercial market. The main obstacle in their way is that the cells now hold only an efficiency of about 1% – 2%.
However, they believe that these numbers can be changed with just a little bit of modifications. Moreover, this efficiency rate only indicates that there needs to be a lot of these cells to harness a unit of electricity.
So, to sum it up, yes, it is only a matter of time before we can completely declare the future of solar as completely bright, and completely transparent!
Image Credits: Google Images
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