Imagine a city that’s actually a vast solar energy harvesting system. A team of Michigan State University researchers has developed a technology that can turn transparent surfaces, from building windows to cell phones, into solar collecting surfaces – without obstructing the view.Unlike other “transparent” solar cells that we’ve reported on in the past, this one really is transparent, as you can see in the photos throughout this story.
According to Richard Lunt, who led the research at the time, the team was confident the transparent solar panels can be efficiently deployed in a wide range of settings, from “tall buildings with lots of windows or any kind of mobile device that demands high aesthetic quality like a phone or e-reader.”
Researchers accomplished this feat by developing a system called transparent luminescent solar concentrator (TLSC), which is composed of organic salts which absorb non-visible wavelengths of infrared and ultraviolet light. LSCs generate energy by drawing sunlight to a very small area and is heralded as a new innovation in solar technology.
This light is then focused towards a traditional solar cell which is capable of trapping the energy and turning it into electricity. This material has unbelievable potential. Not only can it be utilized for windows, but it could revolutionize displays on electronic devices, giving them a significantly longer battery life.