Washington: Imagine a solar device that, when placed over a window, creates solar energy while allowing people to actually see through the window.
Researchers at Michigan State University has developed a new type of transparent luminescent solar concentrator that can be used on buildings, cell phones and any other device that has a clear surface.
The solar harvesting system uses small organic molecules to absorb specific nonvisible wavelengths of sunlight.
"We can tune these materials to pick up just the ultraviolet and the near infrared wavelengths that then aglow` at another wavelength in the infrared," said Richard Lunt from Michigan State University`s college of engineering.
The "glowing" infrared light is guided to the edge of the plastic where it is converted to electricity by thin strips of photovoltaic solar cells.
"Because the materials do not absorb or emit light in the visible spectrum, they look exceptionally transparent to the human eye," Lunt added.
One of the benefits of this new development is its flexibility.
"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 noted.
The study appeared in the journal Advanced Optical Materials.