So it is said that these days, technology is advancing faster than we can apply it. Back in September I

So it is said that these days, technology is advancing faster than we can apply it. Back in September I wrote “Science Fiction…Or Just New Science” about a team of researchers in Stanford that were shrinking electrodes to be small enough for light to pass through which in essence created a transparent solar powered battery.


(Professor Lunt with his transparent solar cell)

Now a team from Michigan State University has taken this a step further. They have created a truly 100% transparent solar panel. The implications of this breakthrough are staggering. The applications of this breakthrough will change architecture and solar harnessing forever.

This creation will quickly lead to windows and  even entire buildings being created by glass that can harness the sun. As I mention in my previous article, the transparent solar cells created by Stanford were only partially transparent. This is because the actual meaning of the word transparent is for light to pass through something uninhibited. That means for all practical purposes, it could not collect solar power.

The Stanford researchers were catching energy with small electrodes. The Michigan State team has developed what is called a transparent luminescent solar concentrator, or (TLSC), which uses organic salts to trap wavelengths of ultraviolet and infrared light. These types of light are invisible to the human eye. By removing the fundamental challenges of creating a transparent photovoltaic cell has allowed the researchers to harness power in a completely new way.

This technology expects to have a top efficiency of five percent with further testing. The prototype’s efficiency only reaches only one percent. Despite that seaming like a very low number, a building that features these new solar windows could actually create a good amount of power. This technology will not only be paramount in the renovation of the window manufacturing process but it can also be retrofitted to current buildings.

The other applications for this glass are limitless. This tech can be used in literally anything that needs a power source. These products would range from cell phones to automobiles to wrist watches.

The Michigan State team’s main priority now is to develop the power efficiency to a greater scale while maintaining a scalable level of affordability. Expectations are that once the efficiency reaches 5%, they will become commercially viable to start to implement into our everyday lives.


Matt Helland
Senior Vice President – North American Energy Advisory



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