If the research being conducted by folks at UCLA continues, we may some day see buildings that are able to provide what would look like invisible electricity to the naked eye. The university has developed a transparent solar cell that could potentially allow electricity to come from windows that still allow people to see outside.
The polymer solar cell absorbs infrared light instead of visible light, which allows the cells themselves to be about 70% transparent. If you’ve ever seen a traditional solar cell, you know that “transparent” isn’t exactly the first word you’d use to describe them. Previous attempts to create similar products have usually resulted in either really expensive solutions or ones that deliver a meager amount of energy.
“These results open the potential for visibly transparent polymer solar cells as add-on components of portable electronics, smart windows and building-integrated photovoltaics and in other applications,” said UCLA professor and study leader Yang Yang. It’s an interesting first step at what could be a new path of innovation in electricity.