Capture the Sun's Power with ... Glass?!!! Is fact stranger than science fiction?

These guys from Detroit may just prove there's more than a little engineering magic left in the city that gave birth to both Motown and the auto industry.

Take a look at this short video to discover how another apparently novel combination -- glass + the sun's heat -- may provide the next generation solution to our energy needs.
Intrigued by the sheer (pun intended as you'll see in the video) potential offered by the vertical surface area of skyscrapers, Dr Richard Lunt of Michigan State University set out to see how he might harness the sunlight bathing their heights.

Watch the clip to discover what he came up with.

Imagine a city that's actually a vast solar energy harvesting system. A team of Michigan State University researchers has developed a technology that can turn transparent surfaces, from building windows to cell phones, into solar collecting surfaces - without obstructing the view.

The magic lies in transparent solar panels and it's pretty cool to discover how these work. Rather than absorb sunlight and in effect, bouncing it back out (science guys, please correct me) like the dark solar pane, Lunt's team are using the power of luminescence to create transparent solar cells. And in the process, they might just be redesigning the world as we know it.

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If you want to seriously geek out on the details (wait - solar panels don't have to be Ray Ban black?! How does that work?!), dive into this very complete article from the fabulous folks at offthegrid.com that explains it all.

Tell us what you think in the comments below. Is this just science fiction or do you think transparent skyscrapers might just power our future? What would you do with a photovoltaic solar cell (besides just saying the phrase to impress that cute guy)?

By Lila Galindo