Sunday, March 22, 2015

First Truly Transparent Solar Cells Innovated in Michigan

Michigan is not just the home of automotive industry and Madonna’s birthplace. Michigan is, among other things, the heart of innovative renewable technology. One of the PV-industry leaders, k-Space, is based in the state and supplies major companies nationwide and abroad with thin-film characterization tools.

Michigan's scientists are full of novice ideas as well. Researchers at Michigan Sate University have come up with a break through transparent solar cell that can turn everything that's made out of glass into a source of green energy. It's not the very first known transparent cell, however, what places it apart from all the other solar cells out there is that it is really transparent. In the past, transparent solar cells were not exactly see-through because for a cell to absorb sunlight and emit electricity some degree of opacity was necessary.

Unlike all other "clear" solar cells out there, Michigan's transparent luminescent solar concentrator is see-through, and can be used as home or business building windows, and even as a screen for an I-phone that will use solar power to charge. The efficiency numbers are not really high: right now TLSC makes 1%, while they forecast it to be easily increased up to 5%. In comparison to opaque solar cells, it's about 2% lower, but despite the low numbers, the advantages of having transparent solar cells installed in a house or building will be unbeatable, especially over time - more green energy, more years to last, more money saved.