Transparent Solar Panels Will Turn Windows Into Green Energy Collectors

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Researchers from Michigan State University developed completely transparent solar panels, which can have numerous applications in architecture, and other fields like mobile electronics or the automotive industry.

Researchers have tried to create such a device before as well, but the final results were never satisfying.

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The team focused on the see-through factor, so they developed a transparent luminescent solar concentrator, or TLSC, which can be placed over a clear surface like a window. It can harvest solar energy without affecting the transmittance of light.

The technology uses organic molecules which absorb light wavelengths which are not visible to the human eye, such as infrared and ultraviolet light. Richard Lunt, assistant professor of chemical engineering and materials science at MSU’s College of Engineering, says:

“We can tune these materials to pick up just the ultraviolet and the near infrared wavelengths that then ‘glow’ at another wavelength in the infrared. The captured light is transported to the contour of the panel, where it is converted to electricity with the help of thin strips of photovoltaic solar cells.”

A transparent luminescent solar concentrator waveguide is shown with colorful traditional luminescent solar concentrators in the background. The new LSC can create solar energy but is not visible on windows or other clear surfaces. Photo by G.L. Kohuth.

Since the vertical footprint is bigger than the rooftop one, especially in glass towers, these devices could make the most out of the buildings’ facades. They would not affect the architectural design but will represent a far more efficient technology.  Yet, they can also be integrated into old buildings as well.

Yimu Zhao, a doctoral student in chemical engineering and materials science, and Richard Lunt, assistant professor of chemical engineering and materials science, run a test in Lunt’s lab. Lunt and his team have developed a new material that can be placed over windows and create solar energy. Photo by G.L. Kohuth.

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I was never much for UFO stories until I started to see strange stuff 2002 on the midnight starry sky! Together with my partner we stood out in the lonely woods and glared out in to the universe. We were admiring the stars. Then all of a sudden, the biggest star in a classical star formation, just ran across the night sky and just behind 4 more stars followed. I thought they ran fast to begin with, just to accelerate! After this, weird things started to happen. Before this, hunting for UFOs hadn't even crossed my mind!
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