The solar panel windows could  take advantage of solar energy in cities where space for solar panels may be limited.
  - UbiQD courtesy photo -

Published Monday, September 21, 2020

Green Technology News

Scientists create transparent
solar panel windows

By the A.M. Costa  Rica wire services

The Scientists of the Los Alamos, New Mexico-based UbiQD company created transparent solar panel windows. Ordinary glass panels can act as solar panels when a layer of nanoparticles is sandwiched between two panes. This could help us take advantage of solar energy in cities where space for solar panels may be limited.

UbiQD is a company focused on advanced materials powering product innovations in agriculture, clean energy, and security.

“If we’ve done our job, no one will even know that they’re there,” said Hunter McDaniel at UbiQD, a materials manufacturing firm in the United States. He and his colleagues have developed transparent solar panels that are indistinguishable from regular glass.

Test installations, involving panels that are 1 square meter in size, are underway in buildings in the U.S. and the Netherlands. The panels have a power conversion efficiency of 3.6 percent, a measure of how much sunlight is converted into electricity. Opaque solar panels, in comparison, have efficiencies between 15 and 20 percent.

These transparent panels are made from two layers of glass glued together with a polymer that contains nanoparticles known as quantum dots. With a core of copper indium sulphide and a shell of zinc sulphide, these quantum dots are tiny semiconductors that can manipulate light.

When the nanoparticles are excited by exposure to UV light, they release photons that travel along the transparent panel towards its edge. The perimeter is fitted with solar cells, which convert the photons into electrical current. The solar cell edging sits in the frame of a window out of sight.

It doesn’t take much to convert the windows to solar panels: the polymer is just 1.7 percent quantum dots by weight. The quantum dots are non-toxic and also relatively cheap to produce, McDaniel said.

The resulting panels are brownish in color, but the team showed it could also produce panels of a grey or grey-blue color by mixing in a blue dye.

The transparency of the glass is also possible to customize, to make panels with a darker or lighter tint. The darker the tint, the greater the energy output, as more light is absorbed. “It’s basically an almost linear relationship,” McDaniel said.

Could these new green windows be the first step for reducing the pollution caused by the traditional electric energy system?
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