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Power Science Technology

UCLA Develops Transparent, Electricity-Generating, Solar Cell Windows 163

Posted by samzenpus
from the look-at-the-energy dept.
Elliot Chang writes "A team from UCLA has developed a new transparent solar cell that has the ability to generate electricity while still allowing people to see outside. In short, they've created a solar power-generating window! Described as 'a new kind of polymer solar cell (PSC)' that produces energy by absorbing mainly infrared light instead of traditional visible light, the photoactive plastic cell is nearly 70% transparent to the human eye — so you can look through it like a traditional window."
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UCLA Develops Transparent, Electricity-Generating, Solar Cell Windows

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  • by mitcheli (894743) on Monday July 23, 2012 @11:56AM (#40737287)
    I could use some for my Prius...
  • by vlm (69642) on Monday July 23, 2012 @12:02PM (#40737351)

    produces energy by absorbing mainly infrared light instead of traditional visible light

    Unclear how much energy you get in exchange for adsorbing 30% of the visible light and probably all the IR. However, if its a lot of light, it might be worthwhile to dip old fashioned incandescent bulbs into this goo. Rather optimistically, if it can generate more than 40% of the nameplate wattage by adsorbing all the IR and 30% of the visible, then you'd get ahead by recycling that power back into the grid. Not a perpetual motion machine, because 70% of the visible is still leaking out the lampshade, but it would be like the world's weirdest phosphor basically eating IR photons and emitting visible photons.

    This does bring up the interesting point for unshaded windows, if it eats 30% of visible light, that merely means you need 30% more ultra-low-R value window area, or 30% more lightbulbs inside to brighten the room back up. So its not going to work well for windows in rooms where the drapes are always open and people are always inside. Great idea for my garage or bedroom (why do those have windows, anyway?) terrible idea for my office / kitchen / living room. Solar panel covered shutters seem like a good idea for the garage and bedroom... if the panels are rockin don't come a knockin or whatever.

  • Spy product (Score:5, Interesting)

    by vlm (69642) on Monday July 23, 2012 @12:11PM (#40737435)

    So if I replaced a section of optical fiber with this stuff, it would look on the OTDR like the worlds most uninteresting little bump (oh look, sloppy winding in the splice case results in a minor bump, eh who cares) and I could detect the electrical field... Sounds like a optical tap design.

    Of course a beam splitter would probably be a lot simpler, but supposedly there does not exist a beamsplitter design that doesn't inherently create what amounts to multipath that "looks like a beamsplitter" on a OTDR so simply doing something weird when you're tapping might help avoid detection.

    The only undetectable optical tap I can think of is chilled-PMT based... I think that would be fairly undetectable if done right.

    I haven't directly hands on done fiber since early 90s so I'm not sure. Probably fiber work is much like IT and CS, there is nothing new, just recycled old ideas along a baseline of slowly increasing speeds.

  • by Baloroth (2370816) on Monday July 23, 2012 @12:11PM (#40737437)
    Not true, if TFA is to be believed:

    "Our new PSCs are made from plastic-like materials and are lightweight and flexible," he said. "More importantly, they can be produced in high volume at low cost."

    Of course, I'll believe that when I see the bill. However, if it works as they say about the only downside is that you won't get as much heat during cold winters through the windows. That's actually about it. Oh yeah, and they are polymers so they may require oil to be produced (maybe, not sure and don't care enough to find out). Maybe some Slashdoter could get worked up about that or something.

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