Transparent Solar Panels Will Turn Windows into Green Energy Collectors

The solar energy is the future of our planet, it is eco and it can serve for many purposes. There have been many researches for its use but never before the designers have developed transparent solar panels. The most successful in this invention were the researchers at the Michigan State University who have managed to develop completely transparent solar panels. This device can be of great assistance in the automotive industry, architecture, mobile electronics, and in other fields of industry.

TLSC – Transparent Luminescent Solar Concentrator

The team of scientists at the Michigan State University focused on developing a transparent solar panel so that it will not affect the natural transmission of light. Focusing on the see-through factor, they have developed the TLSC that can be put over a clear surface like a window.

The solar technology is based on the use of organic molecules that have the ability to absorb light wavelengths like the infrared and ultraviolet light which the human eye cannot detect. According to Richard Lunt, an assistant professor of chemical engineering and materials science at MSU’s College of Engineering, the used materials pick up only the ultraviolet and the near infrared wavelengths and then glow at another wavelength in the infrared. This light goes to the contour of the panel and thanks to the thin strips of photovoltaic solar cells the electricity is being created.

We all familiar with how the rooftop solar panel look, but the vertical footprint is bigger than the rooftop one, and these devices will take the most out of the glass buildings’ facades. Since they are transparent they will not affect the architectural design and can be easily integrated into old buildings too. This technology is very efficient and it will save lots of electricity.

There is still a necessity of finding the way how these cells could be long-lasting as that would be significantly cheaper and almost every window can have an integrated one. Currently, the cost of conventional photovoltaics depends on the used material and not on the solar cell itself.

If these transparent cells become commercially viable, their use will be of great value. Dr. Lunt states that the power they generate could substantially offset the energy use of large buildings. They may not power the whole building, but there would be still a substantial amount of energy that can be used for the lighting and everyday gadgets.

There is still the need of further research, but that has been already provided by the Center for Excitonics, an Energy Frontier Research Center financed by the Department of Energy.