Soon, windows might be generating electricity as researchers have developed a new transparent solar cell that can help humans tap solar energy.
"These results open the potential for visibly transparent polymer solar cells as add-on components of portable electronics, smart windows and building-integrated photovoltaic’s and in other applications," said Yang Yang, a University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) professor of materials science and engineering and lead author of the study.
Researchers have developed a new type of polymer solar cell, by a process known as solution processing that generates electricity by absorbing infra-red rays and not visible light. And, because the cells don't absorb any visible light, they are almost 70 percent transparent to a human eye, according to a press release.
The new cell has a conductor made by the combination of silver nanowire and titanium dioxide nanoparticles, as opposed to the opaque conductor used in other solar cells
The solar cells could be manufactured in large quantity at a very low cost due to the presence of the new composite conductor. The cost of production is keeping investors away from currently available solar panels. "Our new PSCs are made from plastic-like materials and are lightweight and flexible. More importantly, they can be produced in high volume at low cost," said Yang.
Researchers say that they have achieved 4 percent power-conversion efficiency for this type of solar cell.
"We are excited by this new invention on transparent solar cells, which applied our recent advances in transparent conducting windows (also published in ACS Nano) to fabricate these devices," said Paul S.Weiss, California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI) director and Fred Kavli Chair in NanoSystems Sciences, in a statement.
The study was published in the journal ACS NANO.