When you look at major cityscapes like New York or Tokyo or Berlin, you see almost endless vistas of impossibly tall buildings with thousands of windows. Now imagine each one of those windows was a mini transparent solar panel gathering the sun’s energy. The buildings would look the exact same as they do now, but they would gather tremendous energy for use in the cityscape. This would be a huge boon for environmental efforts and would help offset the carbon footprints cities made.
A team of researchers at Michigan State University is working to make that happen.
“We can tune these materials to pick up just the ultraviolet and the near infrared wavelengths that then ‘glow’ at another wavelength in the infrared” – Richard Lunt, assistant professor of chemical engineering and materials science at MSU’s College of Engineering. The captured light is transported to the contour of the panel, where it is converted to electricity with the help of thin strips of photovoltaic solar cells. The goal is to create a panel that captures as much energy as possible while not limiting light passing through the windowpane.
Right now the energy production efficiency is around 1% and they’re currently aiming to get the number up to 5%. If they do, it could be a huge boon to the ecology. Check out the video below for more details.