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UCLA breakthrough: windows as solar panels

Researchers at the University of California – Los Angeles (UCLA) have created see-through PV cells that could be used on smartphones, windows and other clear surfaces.

The team, led by Professor Yang Yang of UCLA’s Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science, originally developed the two-layer clear solar film in 2012. That device could convert 4 percent of incoming sunlight to electricity, but now they’ve managed to almost double the efficiency to 7.3 percent.

The photovoltaic surface is made of two thin polymer solar cells with a layer of material between the cells to reduce energy loss. The two layers also allows the film to absorb light from a wider range of the solar spectrum.

Credit: UCLA

Credit: UCLA

“Using two solar cells with the new interfacial materials in between produces close to two times the energy we originally observed,” said Professor Yang. “We anticipate this device will offer new directions for solar cells, including the creation of solar windows on homes and office buildings.”

The see-through quality means the cells could be used on surfaces like windows without hampering the ability to see through the surface. The cells can also be made to appear gray, brown or green to fit in with buildings’ design features.

Read more about the new technology at UCLA’s website.


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