Researchers at Michigan State University have made one of the most important developments in solar technology in decades. The researchers have developed a transparent luminescent solar concentrator, this is the fancy name for making clear glass panels that can collect energy from the sun. It’s long been thought this would be the future of how we build solar power, but that dream is now one giant step closer to reality.
The solar harvesting system uses small organic molecules developed by Lunt and his team to absorb specific nonvisible wavelengths of sunlight.
“We can tune these materials to pick up just the ultraviolet and the near infrared wavelengths that then ‘glow’ at another wavelength in the infrared,” said MSU’s College of Engineering, Richard Lunt.
The “glowing” infrared light is guided to the edge of the plastic where it is converted to electricity by thin strips of photovoltaic solar cells. He says the materials do not absorb or emit light in the visible spectrum, so to the human eye, they look exceptionally transparent.
Think about the glass in your house, or office building and imagine the large glass surfaces that could be converted into surfaces that collect power from the sun, powering our thirst for electronics inside. It’s an incredibly important development and one that can’t be commercialised fast enough.
There is currently no estimated price for the product.
More information at Science Daily. Photo credit: Yimu Zhao