Transparent solar cells could turn windows into generators

Oxford University researchers are floating the idea of using semi-transparent solar cells embedded in windows to generate electricity in high-rise office buildings.


Oxford University researchers believe neutral-colored, semi-transparent solar cells could be used in building and car windows to generate electricity.

In a newly released report (fee charged), the researchers stated that use of a thin film of a mineral called perovskite could form see-through, flat solar cells with comparatively high efficiencies. Perovskite is an oxide used in ceramic superconductors.

Using a transparent oxide, researchers were able to create see-through solar cells (Source: Oxford University).

The thin-film photovoltaics are dispersed like "islands" throughout the glass and are small enough "to appear continuous to the eye yet large enough to enable unattenuated transmission of light between the islands," the researchers stated. Photovoltaic technology converts light into electrical energy.

The photovoltaic islands are also thick enough to absorb most visible light.

"Using these films, we fabricate thin-film solar cells with respectable power conversion efficiencies," the researchers said. "Remarkably, we find that such discontinuous films still have good rectification behavior and relatively high open-circuit voltages."

The scientists said they were also able to easily tint the photovoltaic arrays with colored dye and have no reduction in performance.

This article, Transparent solar cells could turn windows into generators, was originally published at

Lucas Mearian covers consumer data storage, consumerization of IT, mobile device management, renewable energy, telematics/car tech and entertainment tech for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at @lucasmearian or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed. His e-mail address is [email protected].

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