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Solar-Power Windows

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In a development being heralded as a big step toward allowing windows to generate environmentally-friendly solar power, California university researchers say they have developed a new type of solar cell that is nearly see through.

A team of researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles announced they have developed a polymer solar cell (PSC) that is nearly 70% transparent to the human eye and is made of photoactive plastic that converts infrared lights into electricity. The cell generates electricity by absorbing mostly infrared light, which is invisible.

“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,” said study leader Yang Yang, a UCLA professor of materials science and engineering, who also is director of the Nano Renewable Energy Center at California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI).

Lawrence E. Tannas, Jr., Endowed Chair in Engineering, said the polymer solar cells are made from plastic-like material.

“More importantly, they can be produced in high volume at low cost,” Tannas said releasing in the study.

Thanks to the UCLA researchers, home-buyers may one day soon buy residences and companies may operate out of commercial buildings outfitted with windows that generate their own clean, green solar power. The exciting news out of UCLA is a huge step forward making solar technology more accessible to potentially millions of solar power consumers through California and across the world.

PSCs have been the focus of a lot of recent scientific study, due largely to the perceived advantages they possess compared to other solar cell materials and technologies. For example, PSCs may be used to enable high-performance visibly transparent photovoltaic (PV) devices, including building-integrated photovoltaics and integrated PV chargers for portable electronics.

Earlier attempts to create transparent PSCs have fallen short, so the UCLA team's findings offer an exciting new development in the creation of power-generating windows.

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