Several researchers working at Michigan State University succeeded in creating see-through solar panels. These panels can be used in various fields such as architecture, mobile electronics or in the automobile production.
It has been attempted before to design this kind of product, but only now they have completed it successfully.
The main focus in the whole process was on the crystal clear factor. Therefore, they designed a transparent luminescent solar concentrator – TLSC. This concentrator collects or obtains the energy from the sun and does not affect the light transmittance.
In this technology, infrared an ultraviolet light is used. These cannot be seen without using special instruments. According to Richard Lunt, who works as an assistant professor of chemical engineering and materials science at MSU’s College of Engineering:
“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.”
In glass towers, the vertical footprint is larger compared to the rooftop footprint. Thus, these devices work the best on buildings’ facades; they don’t make a difference in the architectural design but are regarded as an efficient technology. However, they can be also put on old buildings.
As stated by the New York Times:
“If the cells can be made long-lasting, they could be integrated into windows relatively cheaply, as much of the cost of conventional photovoltaic is not from the solar cell itself, but the materials it is mounted on, like aluminium and glass. Coating existing structures with solar cells would eliminate some of this material cost.
If the transparent cells ultimately prove commercially viable, the power they generate could significantly offset the energy use of large buildings, said Dr Lunt, who will begin teaching at Michigan State University this fall.
“We’re not saying we could power the whole building, but we are talking about a significant amount of energy, enough for things like lighting and powering everyday electronics,” he said.”