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Sunlight-Harvesting Windows for Enhanced Power Generation


Nanoparticle-Embedded Glass Redirects Scattered Light to Solar Cells Within Window Frames that Produce Electricity These sunlight-harvesting windows embedded with metal nanoparticles and framed with photovoltaic cells produce four times as much power as other solar windows. In 2014 the United States installed enough solar photovoltaics to power 4 million homes. The growing solar industry now employs nearly 175000 workers more than Google Apple Facebook and Twitter combined. For more than a decade scientists have worked to create solar panels that allow light to pass through a pane of glass as it would allow the use of ordinary domestic windows to generate electricity without major structural alterations. University of Florida researchers have created transparent laminated windows that use inorganic nanoparticles co-extruded with transparent polymers to feed scattered light to commercial solar cells hidden in the window frames. The window can remain highly transparent through control of the size shape and density of the nanoparticles. To increase the harvesting of infrared light without sacrificing transparency scientists use metal nanoparticles to scatter a wider spectrum of light and concentrate more radiant energy to the solar cells. Application Sunlight harvesting windows and laminates generate electricity with minimal structural changes Technology These windows and laminates embed or decorate the surface of one or more layers of a transparent polymer with metal nanocrystals and nanoparticles to direct incoming sunlight to the edges of the glass where it is collected by commercial solar cells. The nanoparticles themselves can vary in size shape and composition which affect the wavelengths of light it will scatter thus its transparency and electricity generation. Due to the mixed composition a broad portion of the near ultraviolent and near-infrared spectrum that enters the polymer can be directed to the edge of the window and collected at a solar cell within the window frame. The surface area collecting the sunlight radiation is dramatically larger than the surface of the solar cell significantly increasing the electrical output of the solar cells.

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