Imagine a glass building which can harvest energy from solar power.
Sounds incredible, right? Well, a recent study by scientists has shown that a transparent solar panel, if placed between the panes of double-glazed windows, could extract energy from the sun.
Now, the only challenge with this research is that scientists need to find an effective process to maximize cell's energy without compromising transparency.
The University of Michigan conducted the research in August. According to the researchers, they set the record for color-neutral, transparent solar cells.
The team was able to discover that these transparent solar panels were able to achieve 8.1 percent efficiency and 43.3 percent transparency with an organic or carbon-based design rather than conventional silicon.
The cells have a slight green tint but the team claims that the green tint resembles the gray colour of sunglasses or car windows.
Stephen Forrest, a Peter A Franken Distinguished University Professor of Engineering, led a team of researchers from North Carolina State University, Soochow University in China, and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.
According to Stephen Forrest, "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."
Ideally, buildings which have glass exteriors have a coating on them that reflects and absorbs some of the light to reduce the brightness and stop the house from becoming too hot.
The researcher believes that rather than discarding the energy, the transparent solar panels could use it to provide some of the building's electricity needs.
Transparent solar cells can measure light utilization efficiency. This tells us how much energy from the light hitting the window can be converted to either electricity or transmitted light within the interior.
UbiQD, an advanced materials company in New Mexico uses "quantum dots", which are microscopic particles to manipulate light to harvest solar energy. They believe that these "quantum dots" could also be integrated with windows.
Hunter Mcdaniel, founder and CEO of UbiQD, said in 2017, "We envision a world where sunlight harvesting is ubiquitous, a future where our cities are powered by quantum dot-tinted glass on skyscrapers."