Crystal Clear Solar Cells
Crystal Clear Solar Cells, a transparent and colour-less material innovation by researchers at Michigan State University (MSU) has the potential to generate solar electricity wherever clear materials are required.
Known as the ‘Transparent Luminescent Solar Concentrator,’ the key to the transparency of this innovation lies in the particular method of solar harvesting developed by Richard Lunt from the MSU College of Engineering and his team: A coating of tiny organic molecules absorb non-visible wavelengths of sunlight. The rays of infrared light are then pushed to the edge of the surface and converted to electricity by thin strips of photovoltaic solar cells.
As Dr. Lunt explains, “Because the materials do not absorb or emit light in the visible spectrum, they look exceptionally transparent to the human eye.”
So what’s the downside? Currently the solar conversion rate of this innovation is only about 1% versus around 19% from other methods, such as spray paint solar cells. Researchers want to integrate this technology into small screens as a first step. Their aim is to achieve 10% efficiency before applying it to other devices.
The advantage? Well, that’s clearly in the design flexibility a colour-free and solar electricity generating material could achieve.
Dr. Lunt has created a company called Ubiquitous Energy to commercialize the work of his team.