Scientists at Michigan State University have achieved a marvelous breakthrough in solar panel technology, a panel that can be applied over a window to generate solar power. The most exciting feature of the new panel is that it will be totally transparent. Thus far, other luminescent plastic-like materials used for this purpose have not been transparent. This breakthrough could allow entire buildings to produce enough power to run on. With all the recent improvements in window technology, this new solar-converting technology is a welcome addition to everyone concerned about energy efficiency.
Transparent Luminescent Solar Concentrator
Michigan State University researchers have “developed the “‘transparent luminescent solar concentrator’ which they say could be used on buildings, mobiles and ‘any other device that has a clear surface.'” (1) In the past, scientists have struggled with luminescent plastics, which did not perform as well as hoped. Moreover, their highly colored appearance would not make for an appealing window coating. New developments, however, have allowed scientists to work with colorless material that, once completely developed, should be 5% efficient. Thus far, the best colored luminescent plastic material is only 7% efficient.
How Does the Luminescent Plastic Work?
First of all, the solar harvesting plastic does its work unobtrusively. That is, while a person might be looking out the window at a beautiful sunset, the organic molecules within the luminescent material are gathering sunlight and converting it to electricity. To the human eye, the process is transparent. The window functions as it’s supposed to–only it’s also generating free solar energy. Once this technology is perfected, consumers can look forward to a whole new generation of solar-friendly windows and smart phone screens. The technology has great potential for not only the residential sector, but the commercial and industrial sectors too.
Technological Milestones in Windows
While this new generation of solar windows takes shapes, consumers have plenty to be excited about in the world of window technology. “From smart phones to smart cars, smart windows have recently come into the market with the potential to significantly reduce energy consumption and more.” (2) When considering new windows for your home, the following options are just a few of the smartest on the market.
Electrochromic Windows: With electrochromic technology, these windows have the ability to change from translucent to opaque in order to control the amount of light and heat that may enter a room.
Photochromic Windows: Photochromic windows are self-tinting and can respond to sunlight intensity in order to control the amount of light that may pass through the window.
Liquid Crystal Windows: Liquid Crystal windows can go from a clear view to opaque in order to obscure views. These windows are a great security feature.
If you are in the market for new windows, consider smart technology. You’ll be able to select a smart window that suits your home’s needs. With their emphasis on energy efficiency, you’ll discover that these new windows are an excellent investment that not only adds to your home’s value, but they can also save you money each month on energy costs.
1. DailyMail Online, “Could we turn windows into solar panels? Transparent material could harvest energy to make buildings self-sufficient,” http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2733936/Could-turn-windows-solar-panels-Transparent-material-harvest-energy-make-buildings-efficient.html
2. AAAWindows 4 Less, “The Amazing Potential of Smart Windows,” http://www.aaawindows4less.com/amazing-potential-smart-windows/