Here at NationSwell, we’ve ooh’d and ahh’d at the remarkable technology of solar panels several times. But regardless of how awesome and environmentally friendly they are, there are some people who are concerned about how “unsightly” they look on top of their neighbors’ houses.
Well, thanks to Michigan State University (MSU) researchers, the aesthetically-interested can keep their precious view.
According to a statement from the university, a team at MSU’s College of Engineering have invented a completely see-through solar panel that can be used on anything with a clear surface, such as windows and smart phones.
“It opens a lot of area to deploy solar energy in a non-intrusive way,” says Richard Lunt, assistant professor of chemical engineering who led the team. “It can be used on tall buildings with lots of windows or any kind of mobile device that demands high aesthetic quality like a phone or e-reader. Ultimately we want to make solar harvesting surfaces that you do not even know are there.”
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The panel — called a “transparent luminescent solar concentrator” — uses small organic molecules that absorbs invisible wavelengths of sunlight and channels it to the photovoltaic solar cells on the panel’s edge, converting it into electricity.
It’s important to note that this current version is only about 1 percent efficient (whereas the most efficient panels can convert up to 40 percent) but the researchers are aiming for efficiencies beyond 5 percent.
But it’s clear (see what we did there?) that this is only just the beginning. As solar technology continues its rise and becomes less expensive, it’s helping our country shift away from its reliance on fossil fuels. And, yes, for those who are concerned, perhaps this future is one that isn’t clouded by those clunky panels.
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