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What If Your Windows Were Power Sources?

Posted on October 15, 2015 in Window Installation

The idea of windows as a power source is nothing new. In fact, many of the existing technologies use a thin film of photovoltaic (or PV) cells that sits between the layers of glass in a window. The film acts like a solar panel and harvests energy from the sun to use as power.

Up until now, these films have always been noticeable, whether it’s because of their grey shade or because the light passing through them casts colorful shadows. Recently, however, researchers at Michigan State University have found a way to make these films completely transparent. This means that homes and buildings can install solar windows that create electricity without any aesthetic changes.

The discovery is a breakthrough, since transparent cells are nearly impossible. (Transparency means that light passes through the material completely and doesn’t get absorbed, however, absorption is what is necessary to create solar power.) But by using an organic salt to absorb certain wavelengths of light, the Michigan State team were able to produce truly transparent glass.

Their technology, called transparent luminescent solar concentrator (or TLSC), is about 5% efficient (current technologies are around 7% efficient). While 5% doesn’t sound like much, fully solar homes and corporations with several of these windows could see significant savings on their electricity.

One of the main reasons more homes and buildings don’t have solar windows is because of their “ugly” nature. This technology, however, solves that. It may even be able to play a part in consumer devices or gadgets in the future (such as cell phone screens), giving us a variety of ways to take advantage of it.

What do you think? Would you use transparent solar windows in your home?

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