Innovation That Matters

Solar energy | Photo source Federico Beccari on Unsplash

Transparent solar panels make any object an energy collector

Property & Construction

Nonvisible wavelengths of sunlight are harvested through luminescent material without blocking the light that humans see

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Spotted: Developed by a team of researchers at Michigan State University, the transparent luminescent solar concentrator absorbs nonvisible wavelengths of light. The transparency allows for the concentrator’s use on almost any surface, potentially transforming architecture and screen-based technology.

The luminescent panel absorbs ultraviolet and near-infrared light and then guides it to the edge of the plastic. Thin strips of photovoltaic solar cells then absorb the light and convert it into electricity. 

The team, led by associate professor of chemical engineering and materials science Richard Lunt, is currently working to improve the conversion efficiency rate of the concentrator. It currently performs at one percent efficiency, with the goal being five percent.

If applied to the estimated five billion square metres of glass surfaces in the United States, the transparent paneling could provide around 40 percent of the country’s energy. That is approximately the same potential estimated for traditional rooftop solar panels. 



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