Why clear solar cells could replace windows in the near future?

No matter how durable, eco-friendly and clean energy sources, conventional solar panels require significant structural space and heavy initial investment. Because of these limitations it is difficult to promote in urban areas (especially in neighborhoods with many apartment blocks or shops). But thanks to the work of intelligent engineers at the University of Michigan, that may not be the case soon.

Researchers have created transparent solar panels that serve as power windows in our homes, buildings, and rented apartments.

Image thanks to Djim Loic / Unsplash

If these transparent panels can generate electricity more efficiently, the days of regular windows may be over, we say. Soon, we will be able to access cheap solar energy no matter where we live – and to make it even better, we will occasionally avoid the horrific power outages because with clear glass panels, every home and every skyscraper can generate its own energy individually.

Overview of Clear Solar Panels

Solar panels mounted on a solar panel are required to generate solar energy to absorb sunlight. Therefore, you cannot allow sunlight to pass through them completely (in the way that a glass window can). So, at first glance, the concept of transparent solar panels may seem erroneous and completely unreasonable because transparent panels cannot attract radiation.

But this is not necessarily the case, researchers have found. But that is not the case.

Image Credits at MSU Professor R. Michigan State University

Solar panels developed by engineers at the University of Michigan include transparent solar panels (TLSC). Sian-shaped, TLSC can select and absorb invisible sunlight, including infrared and ultraviolet lamps, allowing the remaining visible rays to pass through them. So in other words these devices are obvious to the human eye (much like a window) but can still be partially absorbed by sunlight and converted into electricity. It was first introduced in 2013 with a relatively new technology, but is seeing some impressive improvements.

Panels equipped with TLSC can be molded with thin transparent sheets that can be further used to create windows, smartphone screens, car roofs, etc. Instead, they contain a carbon-based IC-SAM coating and a layer of zinc oxide coated with fluorine coating. The IC-SAM and fluorine layers not only increase the efficiency of the panel but also prevent the sun’s rays from breaking down.

Interestingly, researchers at Michigan State University say that transparent solar panels can last up to 30 years, making them more durable than most standard solar panels. Basically, you can align your windows with these clear solar cells and get free electricity for decades without hassle. Unsurprisingly, this promise pleases many people.

According to Professor Richard Lunt (who led a clear solar cell experiment at MSU), “very clear solar cells represent the future wave for new solar applications.” He added that in the future, these devices will be able to generate the same amount of electricity, as well as solar systems such as roofs, and will automatically upgrade our buildings, cars and gadgets.

That is why we are working. “Traditional solar applications have been actively explored for more than five decades, but we have only been working on these very clear solar cells for only five years.

Recent advances in the field of solar cell technology

In addition to research by Professor Richard Lunt and his team at MSU, there are a number of research teams and companies working on solar-powered glass windows. Earlier this year, a team from ITMO University in Russia developed an inexpensive method for producing clear solar cells. Researchers have found a way to make clear solar panels cheaper than ever before.

“Normal thin film Solar cells have a transparent metal backing which allows them to absorb more light. Clear solar cells use a backlight electrode. This time some photons will inevitably disappear, thus reducing the performance of the device. It could be expensive, says Pavel Voroshilov, a researcher at ITMO University’s Faculty of Physics and Engineering.

“For our experiments, we took solar cells based on small molecules and attached nanotubes to it. Next, we copied nanotubes using ion urn. We have created a transport layer that is responsible for allowing the charge from the active layer to reach the electrode successfully. We were able to do this without vacuum chambers and in the atmosphere. All we had to do was drip some ionic liquid and apply a small amount of voltage to create the necessary properties, ”said co-author Pavel Voroshilov.

Image courtesy of Kenrick Baksh / Unsplash

PHYSEE, a technology company from the Netherlands, has successfully installed PowerWindow, a 300-square-foot solar power plant in the Netherlands, in a bank building in the Netherlands. Although the current transparent power windows are not capable of meeting the energy needs of the entire building, PHYSEE says that with some extra effort, they will soon be able to increase the efficiency and power generation capacity of their solar windows.

California-based Universal Energy is working on the ClearView Power system, which aims to create solar panels that can convert glass used in windows into transparent solar panels. The sunscreen allows clear glass windows to absorb high-intensity infrared radiation, and the company said in its first attempt at ClearView solar cells, it gained 9.8% efficiency.

In September 2021, the Nippon Sheet Glass Corporation (NGG) Corporation in Chiba became the first solar-powered building in Japan. NSG solar panels installed in the facility were built by Ubiquitous Energy. Recently, as part of Morgan Creek Ventures, Ubukutius Energy installed clear solar windows on a commercial building under construction in Colorado, Boulder Commons II.

All these exciting developments, sooner or later, mean that we too can install solar panels in our home. Such a small change in the way we produce globally can be a big step towards living in an energy-efficient world.

Not yet there.

If this sounds like a good thing at all, it’s good. The efficiency of these fully transparent solar panels is around 1%, although the technology has a efficiency of up to 10% – this is compared to the previous 15% for conventional solar panels (some efficiency can reach 22% or even more). Slightly higher).

Therefore, the ability to make clear solar cells is not yet effective, but it can be achieved in the not too distant future. Moreover, the attractiveness of this system can be spread evenly in areas where normal solar panels are not possible. Normal solar panels should not be replaced, just replace them.

When you think about it, solar energy was not considered competitive ten years ago – and according to a recent report, it is the cheapest form of electricity in human history. Although clear solar cells have not been used properly, we have seen how quickly this type of technology can be developed, and the promises are having great results.

The idea that we will soon be able to build our buildings through our windows shows how far we have come. An energy revolution is taking place, and we would be wise to take it seriously.

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