Next-Gen Solar Panels Are Nearly Invisible to the Naked Eye
It’s hard to see the latest solar panel technology — which is kind of the point.
Researchers at Michigan State University developed a new type of solar panel that is almost completely transparent. It harnesses solar energy using organic molecules, which glow when exposed to sunlight.
The panels utilize infrared light with tiny photovoltaic strips around the edges of the pane. These are miniaturized versions of the more standard solar panel you might see on a solar farm or a rooftop.
But the infrared light being used is invisible to the unaided human eye, so the panels appear transparent.
Previous translucent solar panels more closely resembled stained glass or tinted windows because of the embedded photovoltaic layers. Richard Lunt, a member of MSU’s research group, says they are looking to improve the experience.
Currently, the new panels convert about 1% of the light that passes through them to energy. The world’s most efficient panels convert 40%.
The MSU team is aiming for 5% efficiency in the near future.
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