Transparent solar cells for windows that generate electricity

August 1, 2012
Transparent solar cells for windows that generate electricity

Scientists are reporting development of a new transparent solar cell, an advance toward giving windows in homes and other buildings the ability to generate electricity while still allowing people to see outside. Their report appears in the journal ACS Nano.

Yang Yang, Rui Zhu, Paul S. Weiss and colleagues explain that there has been intense world-wide interest in so-called polymer (PSCs), which are made from plastic-like materials. PSCs are lightweight and flexible and can be produced in high volume at low cost. That interest extends to producing transparent PSCs. However, previous versions of transparent PSCs have had many disadvantages, which the team set out to correct.

They describe a new kind of PSC that produces energy by absorbing mainly infrared light, not visible light, making the cells 66 percent transparent to the human eye. They made the device from a photoactive plastic that converts infrared light into an electrical current. Another breakthrough is the transparent conductor made of a mixture of silver nanowire and nanoparticles, which was able to replace the opaque used in the past. This composite electrode also allowed the solar cell to be fabricated economically by solution processing. The authors suggest the panels could be used in or portable electronics.

Explore further: Toward 'invisible electronics' and transparent displays

More information: “Visibly Transparent Polymer Solar Cells Produced by Solution Processing” ACS Nano, Article ASAP. DOI: 10.1021/nn3029327

Visibly transparent photovoltaic devices can open photovoltaic applications in many areas, such as building-integrated photovoltaics or integrated photovoltaic chargers for portable electronics. We demonstrate high-performance, visibly transparent polymer solar cells fabricated via solution processing. The photoactive layer of these visibly transparent polymer solar cells harvests solar energy from the near-infrared region while being less sensitive to visible photons. The top transparent electrode employs a highly transparent silver nanowire–metal oxide composite conducting film, which is coated through mild solution processes. With this combination, we have achieved 4% power-conversion efficiency for solution-processed and visibly transparent polymer solar cells. The optimized devices have a maximum transparency of 66% at 550 nm.

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1 / 5 (1) Aug 01, 2012
I'm sorry, but unless it maintains the transparency and clarity of windows than it is not transparent. Of course they use a photo that is blared to make it look transparent (so that you cant tell), but it is not. I would not put these in my house. The purpose of window is to get excellent light in; this invention defeats this purpose. Good for commercial buildings only. 4% efficiency, how do you expect this technology to be viable worth it, and at only 66% transparency. It would have to be 8% efficient, 85% transparent and cheap as hell. This technology is strictly a research project.
not rated yet Aug 02, 2012
To quote the full paper:
"The optical transmittance measurement in this plot shows that the sample with fabricated transparent SN-TFTs with ITO electrodes had a transmittance 85% over the visible light regime (380780 nm). In contrast, a similar glass substrate without any devices on top had a transmittance of 90%, so the transparent SN-TFTs only decreased the transmittance from 90% to 85%."

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