Researchers have unveiled a new type of 100% transparent solar panel that could turn smartphone screens, windows or other transparent surfaces into generators of clean energy.
Vice Motherboard reports that Michigan State University has designed a glass solar concentrator that can be embedded in any transparent surface, from your home window to your smartphone screen, generating power without blocking your view.
Related: Any surface can be a solar panel thanks to perovskite.
The new technology was developed by a team from the MSU College of Engineering. Its roots are small organic molecules capable of absorbing certain wavelengths of sunlight that are invisible to the human eye.
Once absorbed, the light waves are trapped and guided to the edges of the plastic solar concentrator where photovoltaic cells convert them into electricity. Motherboard points out that this is one of the great advantages of this technology over conventional solar methods; Luminescent solar concentrators can collect sunlight from a larger area without having to track the sun. They are also cheaper because the materials cost less.
The great disadvantage of this technology, currently, is that the efficiency is 1% – compared to 25% of traditional solar panels. But the MSU researchers are aiming for more than 5% when their new panels are fully optimized.