MIT Researchers Unveil Transparent Solar Cell
It has been the dream and pursuit of many a business and research endeavor, but only varied success has been achieved to create a truly transparent solar photovoltaic cell. Leave it to the brainiacs at MIT to find the solution. Yes, the research and technology hub has done it again, marking a landslide achievement in the world of energy technology with the creation of a clear solar pv cell.
Researchers Vladimir Bulovic and Richard Lunt have published their findings in Applied Physics Letters. The duo has apparently created a transparent solar cell with a maximum efficiency (sunlight to electricity) of 1.7 percent. The cell operates within the near-infrared spectrum. However, the cell is still only about 55 percent transparent, similar to tinted sunglasses.
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The transparent cell is actually quite unique in its design when compared to tradition cells. Bulovic and Lunt’s transparent cell is comprised of organic molecules that harness infrared light while allowing visible light to pass through. The photovoltaic compound is actually coated onto a pane of standard window glass. The researchers are in the prototype phase of this technology, but believe it could potentially be painted onto existing windows to create a low-cost easy-to-install photovoltaic option for both commercial and home solar installations.
Imagine, soon you may be able to stop by Home Depot or Lowe’s, pick up a can of solar paint and slap it on your house for a fraction of the cost of modern solar panels. What’s even better is the environmental impact of producing the transparent solar coating is much less than current PV panels, which are both energy and resource-intensive. There is one potential flaw, however, in that the tinting created by the photovoltaic coating could adversely affect a building’s solar heat gain. This may be a good thing in warmer climates—reducing air conditioning bills—but could prove problematic in more frigid areas.