UCLA is a smart and sunny place, so it's no surprise that a team of researchers from the university published a paper this month revealing a new kind of transparent solar cell. We've seen technology similar to this before, using carbon nanotubes or super-thin transparent coating, but this one is a bit different. It converts infrared light into electricity.
Engadget reports the polymer solar cells are 66 percent transparent and convert 4 percent of the light into electricity. The study was published in the journal ACS Nano on July 4. According to a UCLA press release, the cells are made from a photoactive plastic that converts the infrared light. Yang Yang, a UCLA professor of materials science and engineering, and director of the Nano Renewable Energy Center at California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI), said:
Our new PSCs are made from plastic-like materials and are lightweight and flexible. More importantly, they can be produced in high volume at low cost.
The possible applications for this technology, if it turns out to be as efficient and practical as Yang purports, are what we've seen transparent solar cells proposed for before: coating windows and covering cell phones. Now to find a way to pair them with this nanotechnology to make windows that keep you cool as well as charged.