Our constant need of new, cleaner energy led a Michigan State University research group to conceive a fully transparent solar panel that could replace ordinary windows, or even cover entire buildings. They designed perfectly clean solar cells, essentially equal to a regular glass window.
Without a doubt they are not the only research team that tried the same study. Before coming up with this result they had to face many problems. As a matter of fact, transparent photovoltaic cells are fundamentally inconceivable, considering that solar panels can develop energy power through a transformation of absorbed protons into electrons. In order to have a completely transparent appliance, light would have to flow unrestrained to the eye, meaning that those protons would have to go wholly through the substance. Therefore what the Michigan State team developed a transparent luminescent solar concentrator (TLSC), a device that utilize organic salts to take in wavelengths of light that are imperceptible to the human eye.
The previous versions of these solar panel had a maximum efficiency of around 7% and was filling the interiors in a colored light. This first version of TLSC only has an efficiency of approximately 1%, but they concluded that once the production begins, it could reach 10%. These percentages may seem low figures, but on a bigger scale the power intake quickly grows. Richard Lunt, who was leading the research team, declares in an interview by Michigan State’s Today blog that “it can be used on tall buildings with lots of windows or any kind of mobile device that demands high aesthetic quality like a phone or e-reader. Ultimately we want to make solar harvesting surfaces that you do not even know are there”.
Researchers are optimistic, they believe that this new technology can be applied to both industrial and commercial appliances and buildings, but also to smaller devices at a reasonable price.
Source: Michigan State University