Windows capable of harvesting energy from the sun have been on the horizon for a number of years, but they’ve yet to help cut down a building’s energy costs. A new development from Australian researchers may change that.
What the researchers have created are semi-transparent solar cells made of perovskite that can efficiently convert ultraviolet and visible light into electricity. The cells, which also feature an organic semiconductor, are designed to have a conversion efficiency that rivals rooftop solar panels. Whereas rooftop solar conversion efficiency sits somewhere between 15 and 20 percent, these solar windows have recorded a conversion efficiency of 17 percent—all while allowing light to come in.
What’s especially noteworthy with this conversion rate is how it compares to the last solar windows we wrote about in December, which had a conversion rate of around 12 percent. The team is now looking at incorporating the technology into commercial products together with Australia’s largest glass manufacturer, Viridian Glass. If that collaboration proves successful, we might soon see glass buildings replacing their windows with semi-transparent solar cells.