“Transparent luminescent solar concentrator”…..huh? This is a device for concentrating radiation, in particular solar radiation to produce electricity. Scientisst at Michigan State University announced this as their latest creation that could turn windows and even cell phone screens into solar-power generators.
Usually, when we think of solar power we imagine these big black panels sitting on the roofs of houses or buildings. With this technology, Richard Lunt, assistant professor of chemical engineering and materials science, who leads the lab researching this device, explains that one day skyscrapers might be able to generate solar power without blocking out light. The material works by absorbing light in the invisible spectrum (ultraviolet and near infrared) and then re-emitting it in the infrared. The infrared light is then channeled to the edge of the clear surface, where thin strips of photovoltaic cells generate the power. Luminescent solar concentrators are less efficient than the traditional panels, but they could allow energy harvesting on surfaces that would otherwise never be used to generate power, for example, a mobile phone. The ultimate mission of this team of researchers is to make solar harvesting surfaces that you do not even know are there.
Could windows be turned into solar panels? Solar harvesting material uses specially developed organic molecules to absorb certain invisible wavelengths of sunlight and convert it into electricity. Right now the device’s efficiency is at one percent but the material could become 5 percent efficient once fully developed. Basically anything with a clear surface could be turned into a solar panel without it being dark. One of the benefits of this technology is that is has the potential to be used cheaply in the next generation of commercial products as well as in the building industries. This means the solar panels will look just like normal windows of houses, instead of being displayed on roof tops, and who knows we might even give up our cell phone A/C adapter wall chargers.