Clear silicon replaces the traditional opaque semi-conductor layers in current solar energy cells
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Spotted: Scientists from South Korea’s Incheon National University created transparent solar panels that greatly widen the potential applications of the energy. See-through solar cells could be used on everything from mobile phone screens to skyscrapers and cars. The team behind the discovery explored the potential of metal oxide transparent photovoltaic (TPV) solar panels.
By inserting an ultra-thin layer of silicon between two clear, metal-oxide semiconductors, the solar cell becomes usable in low light weather conditions as well as capable of utilising longer wavelengths of light. In tests, the team used the new solar panel to run a fan motor.
Interestingly, the combination of materials produced a rapid movement of power, something that could prove particularly useful to people charging devices while on the move. The main drawback of the discovery appears to be the relatively low-efficiency rate attributable mainly to the transparent characteristics of the zinc and nickel oxide layers. The researchers plan to pursue development via nanocrystals, sulfide semiconductors and other new materials.
Solar windows have been garnering considerable attention of late, with Springwise spotting innovations that include windows that change colour and become solar cells when heated and a solar panel designed for indoor use that absorbs ambient lighting.
Written by: Keely Khoury