A new transparent solar cell that could be used as a window was recently developed by researchers at Michigan State University.
This is a feat that was once thought to be impossible, because traditional solar panels absorb light and turn it into energy, but a transparent surface is not typically able to absorb light.
To make a transparent solar cell, researchers opted for a different system called a transparent luminescent solar concentrator (TLSC), which contains organic salts that absorb specific non-visible wavelengths of ultraviolet and infrared light. This light is then guided towards traditional photovoltaic solar cells which are able to trap the energy and convert it into electricity.
Not only can this material be used for windows, but it can also be used for displays on electronic devices, giving them another source of power and potentially extending their energy life significantly.
Most of the UV light has been absorbed by the atmosphere by the time it reaches ground level. Infrared light caries way less energy than visible light or UV. So even if, and that’s a big if, you can get the efficiency at a decent percentage, it still won’t produce much energy. Not to mention you still need traditional photovoltaic cells. All in all a costly whole with little gain. Hopefully they can improvethis drastically over the next few years, but I wouldn’t put my money on it.