Scientists at the UCLA Nano Renewable Energy Center of the California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI) have created a new type of solar cell that allows visible light to pass through, while absorbing infrared light. The result is a solar panel 70% invisible to human eyes that can be used on windows and other unprecedented surfaces.
Together, Dr. Yang Yang, Director of the Nano Renewable energy Center, and Dr. Paul S. Weiss, Director of CNSI, have been able to make even the metal that carries out the charge from the solar cell nearly transparent, using a silver nano wire.
The solar cell is made from a specific polymer plastic that can be cheaply and efficiently produced. The material can even be made as a liquid and sprayed onto surfaces, opening it up to many different applications.
The trade-off is that transparent solar cells are not close to being as efficient as traditional silicon-based cells. The current efficiency achieved by the transparent cells is around 4% in lab conditions, whereas silicon-based, mainstream solar cells are at around 20% efficiency.
So, when will we start “seeing” invisible solar panels on our windows, maybe even our cellphone screens? According to Dr. Yang Yang, the technology could be widely available in a decade.
As SunStarter and Solar Provider Group are dedicated to providing the most current and cost-efficient solar options, we will surely be following the progress of this exciting new technology. (L.A Times and UCLA Newsroom)