Solar panels have been a sustainable source of energy for some time now. Harnessing the sun’s energy, instead of escaping it, is a rare human feat itself. The technology still keeps evolving. The newest accomplishment when it comes to solar energy are transparent solar panels, offering not only an environmentally friendly alternative to other sources of energy; they are also aesthetic in their bearing.
These panels are a technology called the Photovoltaic Glass, which can be used as the glass used for the windows of your home and office, car sunroofs, and impressively even the screens of your smartphones and laptops. It holds great potential to replace the traditional glass windows and can easily transform every building and mobile device into solar powered devices without giving away the aesthetic quality.
How do transparent solar panels work?
Traditional solar panels absorb photons from sunlight and convert it into electrons. Researchers thought it to be counterintuitive to develop transparent solar panels since the light would pass through not giving the solar cell chances to absorb any photons.
However, these transparent solar panels “selectively harness a portion of the solar spectrum” and allow normal light to pass through. Therefore, it is actually the Transparent Luminescent Solar Concentrator (TLSC) which does the trick. It is composed of organic salts which selectively absorbs invisible UV and infrared light wavelengths, which glows as another light wavelength. This wavelength is then guided to the edge of the glass where thin solar panels trap it to convert into energy.
The estimated efficiency of the TLSC is about 10%. Though not much on its own, it would prove to be a big number en mass when collectively amounted through a number of buildings.
Two major types of transparent solar panels are partial and fully transparent.
Partially transparent solar panels have a low efficiency of 7.2% These have been manufactured by a German manufacturer, Heliatek Gmb, and it can absorb around 60% of life. The amount of power generated can also be adjusted by balancing the amount of light absorbed and transmitted.
On the other hand, the Michigan State University (MSU) had originally created the fully transparent solar panels which resembled glass back in 2014 itself. These could turn any window or glass screen into a photovoltaic cell. As mentioned before, it has a higher efficiency of 10%.
Would you like to use a phone with a solar panel for screen? Share with us in the comments below.