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Transparent solar cells could turn windows into generators

Lucas Mearian | Dec. 20, 2013
Researchers implant square photovoltaic 'islands' into glass

Oxford University researchers believe neutral-colored, semi-transparent solar cells could be used in building and car windows to generate electricity.

In a newly released report (fee charged), the researchers stated that use of a thin film of a mineral called perovskite could form see-through, flat solar cells with comparatively high efficiencies. Perovskite is an oxide used in ceramic superconductors.

Transparent solar cells
Using a transparent oxide, researchers were able to create see-through solar cells (Source: Oxford University).

The thin-film photovoltaics are dispersed like "islands" throughout the glass and are small enough "to appear continuous to the eye yet large enough to enable unattenuated transmission of light between the islands," the researchers stated. Photovoltaic technology converts light into electrical energy.

The photovoltaic islands are also thick enough to absorb most visible light.

"Using these films, we fabricate thin-film solar cells with respectable power conversion efficiencies," the researchers said. "Remarkably, we find that such discontinuous films still have good rectification behavior and relatively high open-circuit voltages."

The scientists said they were also able to easily tint the photovoltaic arrays with colored dye and have no reduction in performance.

 

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