Transparent Solar Panels for Windows Hit Record Efficiency

Image by MichaelGaida from Pixabay

Researchers from the University of Michigan recently achieved an efficiency record for transparent solar cells. This innovation could pave the way for skyscraper windows to serve as power sources.

Researchers used an organic, carbon-based design of solar panels that led to this incredible breakthrough. They broke the previous efficiency record and hit the all-time high of 8.1% efficiency. The former 2% efficiency of the Photovoltaic transparent solar panel was also from the University of Michigan.

The research is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Transparent solar panels are different from traditional silicon-based solar panels

Stephen Forrest, who led the research, said, “Windows, which are on the face of every building, are an ideal location for organic solar cells because they offer something silicon can’t, which is a combination of very high efficiency and very high visible transparency,”

Transparent solar panels has 43.3% transparency similar to the transparency of windows used in skyscrapers

Sheets of transparent solar cells appear similar to the coating used on windows in order to reduce the glare and heat of the sun. But these sheets also generate electricity to power the building.

 “The new material we developed, and the structure of the device we built, had to balance multiple trade-offs to provide good sunlight absorption, high voltage, high current, low resistance and color-neutral transparency all at the same time,” explained assistant research scientist Yongxi Li to Michigan News.

The material is a combination of organic components that is transparent to visible light but absorbs the energy of invisible infrared to generate power.

Different versions:

Although the group features organic, carbon-based solar cells with 8.1% efficiency, more options are also available. Another version was a color-neutral version that is made with an indium tin oxide electrode.

Silver electrode in it raised the efficiency to 10.8% with a 45.8% transparency. However, the latter version has a slight green tint, which might make it unsuitable for some window applications.

Bianca Van der Watt

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