New solar cells may bring 'power' windows

July 20, 2012 at 5:36 PM
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LOS ANGELES, July 20 (UPI) -- New transparent solar cells will let windows in homes and offices generate electricity while still allowing people to see outside, U.S. scientists say.

Researchers at UCLA say they've developed a polymer solar cell that produces energy by absorbing mainly infrared light, rather than visible light, making the cells nearly 70 percent transparent to the human eye.

The polymer solar cells are made of a photoactive plastic that converts infrared light into an electrical current but is less sensitive to visible light, balancing solar cell performance and transparency in the visible wavelength region, a UCLA release reported Friday.

"These results open the potential for visibly transparent polymer solar cells as add-on components of portable electronics, smart windows and building-integrated photovoltaics and in other applications," study leader Yang Yang, a professor of materials science and engineering, said.

"Our new PSCs are made from plastic-like materials and are lightweight and flexible," Yang said, noting intense world-wide interest in polymer solar cell technology. "More importantly, they can be produced in high volume at low cost."

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