August 02, 2012
SOON, the windows of your house and the screen of your smartphone may be collecting power.
An article published in the journal Advanced Materials says researchers at the University of California have built working examples of a new kind of solar cell: It allows roughly 60 per cent of natural light through, but uses the rest to generate electricity.
This is not the first attempt to turn glass features such as windows into solar panels.
But the approach used by Yany Yang Laboratory has the potential for mass-manufacturing techniques as it can be "printed" on polymer rolls before being applied to glass.
Other techniques require the light to be trapped inside the glass window itself, directing it to photovoltaic cells in the pane.
The new cell utilises a thin network of silver nanowires sprayed onto a layer of titanium oxide, with its gaps filled by nanoparticles of indium tin oxide. This sits on top of a polymer layer.