Windows as power stations! New glass can be used as solar power panels

Glass that darkens when light hits it is not a new innovation anymore and what's more, the product uses electricity to do so. Glass is getting technologically savvier- research has lead to the development of glass panels which instead of using energy, create it. 

The project undertaken by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy has developed a new type of glass that can be used as solar power panels.

This ‘solar panel powered glass’ is likely to be used in cars and windows in the future which will produce solar energy. The research gives exciting implications into the future of large buildings which, it is hoped, by using ‘solar windows’, will not only use less energy but also generate their own renewable source.  What’s more, the glass will be quick to construct, taking only a day to make in the factory.

The glass is covered by a specialist coating containing antimony, led iodide and perovskites crystals which when placed in a sunny location, leads to an energy conversion rate of 7%.

The research team placed a liquid semiconductor on a flat piece of glass, which was spun rapidly spreading the chemicals across the glass's surface, similar to how a computer chip is made.

At a low temperature, the glass appears like usual glass- transparent- but when light hits it and the temperature increases, the glass coating changes colour into a yellowy orange hue.

Consequently, in the morning, the glass will appear see-through, and as the day progresses and the temperature rises, the shade alters as the panels collect solar energy.

Although the solar panel glass needs to increase the percentage of energy it converts, this project is a start in the development of ‘smart windows’ which can generate energy.

To view more about the research click here

Image of what the glass may appear like on buildings. Image credit: Glynlow