What if every window could tap the power of the sun

A Michigan State University research team has developed a transparent solar panel capable of capturing solar energy.

Professor Richard Lunt, MSU assistant professor who headed the research, believes that the panel can be employed in a wide variety of settings.

“It can be used on tall buildings with lots of windows or any kind of mobile device that demands high aesthetic quality like a phone or e-reader. Ultimately we want to make solar harvesting surfaces that you do not even know are there,” Lunt said in a MSU press release.

Most solar panels capture visible spectrum light, which represents just a small segment of electromagnetic wave spectrum. The transparent luminescent solar concentrator (TLSC) doesn’t capture visible light, but non-visible ultraviolet waves are absorbed by the device.

The concentrator then converts it into another colorless infrared wavelength and sends it to the edge of the concentrator, where photovoltaic solar cells convert light energy to electricity.

Right now the TLSC is performing at around 1% efficiency, but the MSU team believes it can be optimized to around 5%. Currently, non-transparent luminescent concentrators perform can achieve 7% efficiency, at best.