A team of researchers from Michigan State University has made a pathbreaking discovery in the field of solar energy. Solar energy is one of the significant sources of renewable energy. It is important especially in the times where global warming is increasing at alarming rates. However, installing solar panels is expensive and also space consuming, for household usage and for smaller activities.
Nevertheless, the discovery made by the Michigan State University overcomes such shortcomings. They have designed a transparent solar panel that is transparent just like glass. It can now be used in the place of windows, glass doors and can also replace a smartphone screen.
Richard Lunt, who led the research, acknowledges that the team is confident about 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.”
Coming up with fully transparent solar panels is difficult and a task of sheer smart work. Primarily because solar panels generate power by converting absorbed photons into electrons. While a transparent substance is one which allows complete passage of light from one side to the other.
So as to arrive at fully transparent solar panels MSU has created transparent luminescent solar concentrator (TLSC). The TLSC consists of organic salts that absorb wavelengths of light that is invisible to the human eye. This emitted infrared light is guided to the edge of the plastic, where thin strips of conventional photovoltaic solar cell convert it into electricity. This enabled the researchers to harness the power of infrared and ultraviolet light.
Versions of previous semi-transparent solar cells that cast light in colored shadows can usually achieve efficiency of around seven percent, but Michigan State’s TLSC is expected to reach a top efficiency of five percent with further testing (currently, the prototype’s efficiency reaches a mere one percent). While numbers like seven and five percent efficiency seem low, houses featuring fully solar windows or buildings created from the organic material could compound that electricity and bring it to a more useful level.