Researchers at The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) have developed a new, transparent solar cell that could give windows in homes and other buildings the ability to generate electricity while remaining clear enough to see through. The development of these transparent photovoltaic cells have been announced by researchers under professor Yang Yang.
Trading silicon for conducting polymers has given these photovoltaic cells new and exciting properties. They are lightweight, flexible and transparent, and can easily be fixed to windows or building façades, or even stuck on to a portable electronic device to act as a charger. With a transparency of 66%, these cells harvest energy from infrared, not visible, light to produce an electric current with 4% power-conversion efficiency.
Prof. Yang believes there is growing world-wide interest in polymer solar cells. "Our new cells are made from plastic-like materials, and are lightweight and flexible," he said. "More importantly," he added, "they can be produced in high volumes at low cost."
Polymers can be more economically fabricated than silicon-based alternatives, and the use of a transparent electrode made of a mixture of silver and titanium dioxide nanoparticles relies on mastered deposition methods.
Their advantages over competing technologies have earned these cells great attention. Scientists have also been intensely investigating ways of improving performance and their potential in making unique advances for broader applications such as their integration in buildings or as integrated photovoltaic (PV) chargers for portable electronic devices.
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