Non-Intrusive Transparent Solar Panels? [images]

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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.

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.

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. Credit: G.L. Kohuth. Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2014-08-solar-desnt-block-view.html#jCp

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. Credit: G.L. Kohuth.
Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2014-08-solar-desnt-block-view.html#jCp

The world of solar energy continues to progress. From standard panels to portable solar power to solar highways and now, non-intrusive transparent solar panels. A team of researchers at Michigan State University developed a new type of solar concentrator that when placed over a window creates solar energy while allowing people to actually see through the window.

This has been attempted historically but yielded poor results. There wasn’t enough energy production and the materials were never fully transparent. Nobody want’s to sit in a building of colored glass.

“We take an approach where we actually make the luminescent active layer itself transparent.” The solar harvesting system uses small organic molecules developed by Lunt and his team to absorb specific nonvisible wavelengths of sunlight. “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,” stated Richard Lunt of MSU’s College of Engineering. The glowing infrared light is guided to the edge of the plastic where it is converted to electricity by thin strips of photovoltaic solar cells.

“Because the materials do not absorb or emit light in the visible spectrum, they look exceptionally transparent to the human eye,” Lunt said. Clearly, this can open the doors to a whole new playing field for use on a mass scale on tall building or any kind of mobile device. Now we might be able to harvest solar energy without even knowing its there!

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