Harnessing Solar Energy With Power-Generating Windows
Solar cells – semiconductor devices that use sunlight to produce electricity – are considered one of the main technological innovations that will help humanity generate electricity in a sustainable way. Due to recent developments in solar energy related to perovskite and semiconductor technologies, solar cells have managed to reach average visible transparency of up to 70 percent.
A research team at Tohoku University in Japan has succeeded in developing a near-invisible solar cell, with transparency of over 79 percent, that could be used to transform windows, agricultural sheds, glass-based smart equipment, and even human skin into energy-harvesting devices. The newly-developed device is based on a combination of indium tin oxide (ITO) and tungsten disulfide (WS2), two materials that scientists consider to be the most suitable in terms of light absorption co-efficiency per thickness and band gaps in the visible light range. According to a study published in the journal Scientific Reports, the production of these devices can be scaled up rapidly.
With five to seven billion square meters of glass surfaces in the US alone, tremendous amounts of energy could be generated by harnessing the potential of transparent solar cells. Traditional solar panels currently need to cover extended areas and are cost-intensive. Transparent panels could be more easily integrated into urban areas and allow people to generate electricity by using their home or office windows, car sunroofs, smart devices, etc.
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