Future Earth

Transparent Solar Cell Technology

Transparent solar cell could make every window and screen a power source!

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Fantastic transparent solar cell technology spawned from Michigan State University research team and developed by Ubiquitous Energy, a Silicon Valley start-up. This technology is a clear step towards the future of power.

This sort of breakthrough in solar tech, moving away from the tinted versions previously developed, could soon see a world where panes of glass, and potentially entire buildings could be used to generate solar energy.

This sort of evolution in solar cell technology means which is practically indistinguishable from a normal pane of glass. The scope of this is far reaching for the implications of future power generation.

Transparent Solar Cell Technology

The technology the team at Ubiquitous Energy have developed is a slightly different technique for gathering sunlight than the traditional solar cell.

The technology is essentially a transparent film that can coat a variety of surfaces turning these surfaces into a  transparent photovoltaic cell and directing the energy by using a  ‘TLSC’ – transparent luminescent solar concentrator.

These TLSC consist of organic salts that absorb specific non-visible wavelengths of ultraviolet and infra-red light, which when struck by light, glow as another wavelength of infra-red light. Most traditional cells focus on capturing all wavelengths of light vs this new approach to targeting the unseen spectrum.

The infra-red light captured is guided to the edge of the cell, where thin strips of conventional photovoltaic solar cells convert it into electricity. This technology has been trademarked “ClearView Power™” by the company.ClearView Power™ technology

Benefits of the technology include:

  • Invisible: Up to 90% visible light transmitted; absorbs only ultraviolet and infra-red
  • Efficient: Over 10% achievable; optimization is independent of transparency
  • Low cost: low-cost, non-toxic materials; industry standard deposition equipment
  • Thin and light: film is less than 1/1000th of a millimetre thick
  • Ubiquitous: ClearView Power™ can generate electricity on any surface or device without aesthetic impact

See following reference paper to learn more  “Near-Infrared Harvesting Transparent Luminescent Solar Concentrators”

The real world application of this non-invasive power generating technology include mobile technology, the internet of things and provision of onboard power to buildings through windows.

Thoughts do arise as to how this sort of technology may perform in locations such as London, or Scandinavia. Perhaps not being able to perform optimally.

The potential of this technology no doubt a concern to the traditional power companies, which may in turn delay the generation of these products more than need be. Perhaps Elon Musk should get his hands on this and push it through regardless, much similarly as he has done with his electric cars and power hubs (which are phenomenal, and demand has well exceeded supply).

Here’s looking towards a brighter and cleaner future for all through this great evolution in solar cell technology and the future of power.

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