Scientists Introduce Transparent Solar Panels That Can Be Used as Windows

A group of researchers has developed a new method for producing photovoltaic solar panels that nevertheless allow light to pass through.
Scientists Introduce Transparent Solar Panels That Can Be Used as Windows
Scientists Introduce Transparent Solar Panels.

A group of researchers has developed a new method for producing photovoltaic solar panels that nevertheless allow light to pass through. These translucent solar cells, which may be installed in offices, houses, factories, and other structures, have the potential to spark a new energy revolution. Transparent solar cells may take up less space while providing clean, green energy by simply replacing windows. The researchers were able to create organic solar cells using a novel technology that is easily scalable for mass production.

"In principle, we can now grow semitransparent organic solar cells to two meters by two meters," stated Stephen Forrest, Professor of Electrical Engineering and lead author of the work published in the journal Joule.

Forrest's team of experts has created solar cells with a record efficiency of 10% and a 30-year lifetime

The great majority of solar cells used today are silicon-based, resulting in a fully opaque panel. While recent development and research into silicon photovoltaic cells have increased, other solar cell technologies such as organic solar cells are progressively being researched as well, despite their efficiency and lifespan lagging behind silicon panels. Forrest's team of experts has created solar cells with a record efficiency of 10% and a 30-year lifetime.

The major barrier to the broad use of organic solar cells has been the inability to scale production for it until now. Because the lasers used to etch the micron-scale electrical connections in silicon scales would readily harm the plastic light absorbers, they could not be utilized on organic cells.

Instead, Forrest's team devised a multistep peel-off patterning approach capable of making micron-scale connections. Thin strips of patterned plastic were placed between the organic and metal layers and scraped away to produce incredibly thin electrical interconnections between the cells.

The panels are suited for commercial usage

The panels are suited for commercial usage since they have roughly 50% transparency and a greenish tinge. The newly established approach can potentially be used to create technologies that make solar cells even more transparent for usage at home.

"Our study is derisking the technology so that firms may make the expenditures required to enter large-scale manufacturing," Forrest explained.

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