Back in August 2015, a group of researchers at Michigan State University designed a transparent solar concentrator that can turn any window or sheet of glass into a working solar cell. The project was run by Prof. Richard Lunt and their aims were to integrate the use of solar cells into people lives in the most non-intrusive way possible. And they have created a truly genius piece of technology.
Because these solar panels are completely transparent, by their very nature all light passes through them – meaning that no energy can be gathered. To get around this problem the scientists created the technology called transparent solar luminescent concentrator which uses organic salts to absorb wavelengths of light that are invisible to the human eye and then guide them to the edge of the cell where there are strips of conventional solar cells which then convert it into electricity.
The maximum efficiency of these solar cells is around 5%, far lower than conventional photovoltaic solar panels. But if you add up these cells on a larger scale say for example if every window on a building is covered by them, the numbers add up and the possibility of solar cities in the future becomes closer to being achieved. They are also looking into the idea of using these cells on phone and tablet screens which will in turn give more than a few minutes or a couple of hours of battery time.
The scientists are hard at work today increasing the efficiency of the cells while at the same time maintaining affordability. If this technology becomes widespread it will be a big step forward in the field of renewable energy. They are still working hard to improve it and the cell is not yet ready for the marked but there is no doubt that this is the future of alternative forms of energy.