Transparent Solar Panels | Michigan State University


Transparent Solar Panels | Michigan State University

– I’m here on the water front in Detroit and I’m talking about solar power. When you think of traditional solar panels, you think of those large black squares that are mounted on rooftops or in fields.

But what if we were able to start getting our solar panels to look like this? An entire skyscraper dedicated to harvesting solar energy. A Michigan State professor is making that happen right now. (upbeat music) So I’m sitting here with Professor Lunt, a professor in the college of engineering? – Correct, I’m a professor of chemical engineering and material science.

When I was growing up, I grew up just outside of Boston and I began to appreciate the amount of area there is in not only glass but just tall buildings in general. And there’s often more area in the vertical footprint than there is in the rooftop footprint.

One of our thoughts was if we could turn these areas into solar harvesting surfaces, we could really make a big impact. This is a transparent, luminescent solar concentrator. The way that this works is it’s gonna capture the parts of the solar spectrum that you can’t see with your eye.

So it’s gonna capture the ultraviolet and the infrared parts of the solar spectrum and that glowing infrared light gets guided to the edge of the glass where we mount very thin strips of solar cells.

And that’s gonna convert that energy into electricity. So now we are in the molecular and organic exotonics laboratory. And so this is a fully assembled prototype of this type of technology. So I guess what we can do at this point is just hook this up and show you kind of how it works.

So what I’m gonna do now is just hook up the solar concentrator and we’re gonna shine the light onto the active layer and the fan moves. – [Anthony] Generating power? – [Professor Lunt] That’s right.

– [Anthony] So with much bigger windows, with the actual power and intensity of a sun. – [Professor Lunt] That’s right. – [Anthony] You’re gonna be able to do more than just move a little fan.

– That’s right. We’re gonna be able to power the building, any building. It can start to be a good solar collector now. So we can turn our solar farms into solar cities. – When you’re looking at a building like this, if we implemented your technology on this, how would this building look different? – So the building would look exactly the same.

– It’d just be normal windows. – That’s right. – That’s the benefit, right? – That’s right and whether you’re talking about the windows or the siding, the building will look exactly how you want the building to look and you won’t even know that the solar technology is even there.

– [Anthony] Is this something that can be retrofit onto old buildings? – Yeah that’s actually a very important part of this technology is we actually have the ability to not only integrate it during the window manufacturing process but we can also make laminates where we can retrofit from the inside of the building.

And so this type of technology allows us to really think about new construction as well as existing construction but also other applications such as mobile electronics, automobiles, green houses. So the applications are almost endless.

We have glass up there, we have glass down here. Because we’ve developed this really scalable process, this really scalable technology, I think we can start to see this within a couple years in products.

So that’s our goal, see products in a variety of areas within the next couple years. – So this isn’t some far flung thing, this is– – This is happening now, yeah. I’m here on the waterfront in Detroit and I’m talking about solar power when you think of traditional solar panels you think of those large black squares that are mounted on rooftops around fields what if we were able to start getting our solar panels to look like this an entire skyscraper dedicated to harvesting solar energy a michigan state professor is making that happen right now so I’m sitting here with Professor Lunt a professor in the College of Engineering correct I’m a professor of chemical engineering and material science when I was growing up I grew up just outside of the Bossip and I began to appreciate the amount of area there is in not only glass

but just tall buildings in general and there’s often more area in the vertical footprint than there is in the rooftop footprint one of our thoughts was if we could turn these areas into solar harvesting surfaces we could really make a big impact this is a transparent luminescent solar concentrator the way that this works is it’s going to capture the parts of the solar spectrum that you can’t see with your eye

so it’s going to capture the ultraviolet and near-infrared parts of the solar spectrum and that glowing infrared light gets guided to the edge of the glass where we mount very thin strips of solar cells and that’s going to convert that energy into electricity so now we are in the molecular and organic hexitonic laboratory and so this is a fully assembled prototype of this type of technology so I guess what we can do at this point is just hook this up and show you kind of how it works so what I’m going to do now is just hook up the solar concentrator and we’re going to shine the light onto the active layer and the fan moves generating power that’s right

so with much bigger windows with the actual power of intensity of a Sun that’s right you’re going to do more than just be able to move in little fan that’s right we’re going to be able to power the building any building it can start to be a good solar collector now so we can turn our solar farms into solar cities when you’re looking at a building like this if we implemented your technology on this how would this building look different so the building will look exactly the same just be normal windows that’s right that’s the benefit right that’s right and whether you’re talking about the windows or the siding the building will look exactly how you want the building to look and you won’t even know that the solar technology is even there is this something that could be retrofit onto old buildings yeah that’s actually a very important part of this technology is we actually have the ability to not only integrate it during the window manufacturing process

but we can also make laminates where we can retrofit from the inside of the building and so this type of technology allows us to really think about new construction as well as existing construction but also other applications such as mobile electronics automobiles greenhouses so the applications are almost endless we have glass of their live glass down here because we’ve developed this really scalable process this really Deval technology I think we can start to see this within a couple years in products so that that’s our goal is to it with C products in a variety of areas it’s in the next couple years so this isn’t some far-flung thing this is this is happening now yeah you