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UCLA Develops Transparent, Electricity-Generating, Solar Cell Windows

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the look-at-the-energy dept.

Power 163

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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More liberal bullshit. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40737185)

We should not be screwing around with this shit while we can get fossil fuels for next to nothing. These people have absolutely no business sense.

Re:More liberal bullshit. (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40737395)

Do you know what's even more plentiful and cheaper than fossil fuels? Poor people. We should be burning them instead.

Re:More liberal bullshit. (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40737553)

No giving Mitt ideas, please.

Re:More liberal bullshit. (-1)

P-niiice (1703362) | more than 2 years ago | (#40737609)

Do you know what's even more plentiful and cheaper than fossil fuels? YOU"RRRRE MOMMMM!

Re:More liberal bullshit. (1, Funny)

Reverand Dave (1959652) | more than 2 years ago | (#40737913)

YOU ARE MOM?

Re:More liberal bullshit. (1)

tmshort (1097127) | more than 2 years ago | (#40738293)

They're being saved for Soylent Green...

Re:More liberal bullshit. (1)

Reverand Dave (1959652) | more than 2 years ago | (#40738665)

The really sad part about these is that they are made entirely out of fossil fuels. Not really.

Re:More liberal bullshit. (1)

gman003 (1693318) | more than 2 years ago | (#40738909)

They're even renewable!

Re:More liberal bullshit. (1)

daem0n1x (748565) | more than 2 years ago | (#40738879)

Attaboy! We don't need no commie wimpy treehuggin potsmokin eurotrash abortionist lesbian solar windows. We can get all the energy we need from burning tires!

70% ? (2, Insightful)

Skarecrow77 (1714214) | more than 2 years ago | (#40737199)

so, like about as transparent as your shower door with some soap scum on it? 30% obfuscation seems like a lot...

Re:70% ? (5, Informative)

Chuckstar (799005) | more than 2 years ago | (#40737227)

Transparency is merely how much of the light gets through. What you are talking about is translucency (i.e. scattering). There's no indication from the article that there is significant scattering. It would just look like you had tinting on the window.

Re:70% ? (2)

Skarecrow77 (1714214) | more than 2 years ago | (#40737247)

ah my mistake.

Re:70% ? (5, Informative)

Spectre (1685) | more than 2 years ago | (#40737293)

Transparency is merely how much of the light gets through. What you are talking about is translucency (i.e. scattering). There's no indication from the article that there is significant scattering. It would just look like you had tinting on the window.

And not very much tinting, either. 70% transparent would just look like glass, if you didn't have something to compare it to. Even 90% tinting (10% transparent), as long as it is reasonably uniform at different color transmissions, doesn't interfere with vision at all ... sunglasses block more light than that!

Re:70% ? (2)

Gr8Apes (679165) | more than 2 years ago | (#40737337)

70% transparent is noticeable, but generally a nice amount, especially on south/west facing windows.

Re:70% ? (1)

Chuckstar (799005) | more than 2 years ago | (#40737657)

I think his point was that if you were inside a building that all the windows had the exact same 70% transparency, you'd have a hard time answering the question "is there tinting on this window". Whereas if someone said "here's two windows" and one was 70% and one was 90%, you'd be able to totally tell the difference. We're just not that good at detecting the difference between "full daylight" and "70% of full daylight", unless we're directly comparing the two.

Re:70% ? (1)

Chuckstar (799005) | more than 2 years ago | (#40737691)

BUT, 70% might be low enough that when you walked outside and saw how bright it really was, you might think to yourself "oh, yeah... definitely that was tinted in there".

Re:70% ? (1)

Art Challenor (2621733) | more than 2 years ago | (#40737689)

You have to wonder if a high R-Value wall with "traditional" solar panels, correctly oriented, along with LED monitor "windows" and daylight LED (or CFL) bulbs would be more energy efficient.

With LED monitors you could pick your location to match your mood. Summer in the Caribbean and winter in the Alps!

Re:70% ? (1)

v1 (525388) | more than 2 years ago | (#40737733)

I was just thinking this sounds like a nice way to get some power from your tinting. But I wonder how useful it is in reality? And attaching wires to a roll-down window will increase mechanical complexity and add will eventually wear out the wires leading to the window or whatever track mechanism you're going to use to transfer power.

I assume this has been tested to work with safety glass? And you can't tint your front or rear windows legally. Probably would make getting a window replaced significantly more expensive when the neighbor kid gets careless with his pellet gun.

Re:70% ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40738155)

Probably would make getting a window replaced significantly more expensive when the neighbor kid gets careless with his pellet gun.

Maybe your neighbour's kid will learn after you decide that maybe you should be more careful with your fists after your window is shot out.

Re:70% ? (1)

WillDraven (760005) | more than 2 years ago | (#40738327)

How barbaric! Don't you know that these days we threaten and harass our neighbors with lawyers, not violence!~

Re:70% ? (1)

Soluzar (1957050) | more than 2 years ago | (#40738355)

"And you can't tint your front or rear windows legally."

Are you thinking of car windows? It's the only way this comment makes any sense to me.

Re:70% ? (2)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#40738801)

Would be more effective to get rid of the windows entirely (or shrink them to tiny size), since there is more energy LOSS through the window than any other part of the house. Thousands of kilowatt-hours of heat (or cool) leak through glass via conduction. Meanwhile the embedded-solar would only generate a few hundred. Overall a huge net loss.

Wonderful concept... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40739025)

They came up with these wonderful devices called double- or triple-paned windows, with amazing coatings that counter the loss of energy from inside the house.....years ago, if you read anything besides opinion columns.

Re:70% ? (3, Informative)

rhsanborn (773855) | more than 2 years ago | (#40737265)

There is a photo in the article. It's more like tinting your windows.

Re:70% ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40738381)

He may just have gotten confused by the depth of field of the picture and the focusing on the cells. Kidding.

Re:70% ? (1)

Orsmo (976) | more than 2 years ago | (#40737289)

Blocking 30% of visible light doesn't mean obfuscating what's on the other side. It means simply letting less light through. Think lightly (30% is lightly) tinted windows, not soap scum on the shower door.

Re:70% ? (4, Informative)

Rei (128717) | more than 2 years ago | (#40737681)

Given that untinted window glass is in the 80-90% range, 70% isn't bad at all.

Remember that you don't perceive brightness linearly. Its several orders of magnitude brighter outside on a sunny day than it is in a very well-lit room inside, but it doesn't feel that way. Think of how many light bulbs you'd need to have to match 1000W/m^2, factoring in also that even fluorescent and LED bulbs lose the lion's share of their energy as heat.

made in China (1)

zeroryoko1974 (2634611) | more than 2 years ago | (#40737245)

Chinese probably already copying the plans, and will undercut any American made product by as much as it takes to put them out of business

Re:made in China (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 2 years ago | (#40737331)

Don't worry, Some politicians will request a new stimulus package because throwing money in the air has worked so well so far. We will end up funding those Chinese with money we borrowed from them in the process _again_.

exclamation marks look terrible here (5, Insightful)

CalRobert (2451626) | more than 2 years ago | (#40737263)

Want to sound like a fourth grader shilling their science project? Use exclamation marks in your summary.

Re:exclamation marks look terrible here (2)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 2 years ago | (#40737939)

Thanks! I was wondering how they found me out at the 4th grade science fair.

XSUNX Research (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40737273)

Disclosure: I am not an investor or employee.

The company XSUNX has been doing this for a few years with Copper Indium Gallium Diselenide (as a competitor to Silicon and which theoretically is supposed to be better for the environment), generating thin film solar power that you can see through. Their first generation was a smoky amber glass with slight distortion; their current generation film is more like a tinted window.

Re:XSUNX Research (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40737407)

That's a really catchy and marketable name there. For both the company name and the product. XSUXX CIGD!!! BUY IT!!!

Call it something like "Tinted Miracle Film with 50% more Electron-Migration Power" instead. Like hair care products, people buy that marketing crap all the time.

There's a few people doing similar (2)

mcmonkey (96054) | more than 2 years ago | (#40739141)

Similar work is being done at MIT.

http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2011/transparent-solar-windows-0415.html [mit.edu]

For the folks wondering what 70% transparent windows look like, I think the small glass pictured in that article is 65% transparent. Certainly good enough for ambient lighting in an office.

Does it come in styles for Automobiles (4, Interesting)

mitcheli (894743) | more than 2 years ago | (#40737287)

I could use some for my Prius...

Tell me slashdot... (0)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 2 years ago | (#40737303)

..why this is impractical and won't ever work.

Re:Tell me slashdot... (1, Insightful)

gregulator (756993) | more than 2 years ago | (#40737355)

It is impractical because the cost to manufacture the solar cell is much mroe expensive than the energy it will create over the lifetime of the cell. (*assuming it is like every other solar product.)

It WILL work when the cost of the solar cell goes down; or when the cost of every other source of energy rises.

Re:Tell me slashdot... (3, Interesting)

Baloroth (2370816) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:Tell me slashdot... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40737445)

Same old bullshit about the cost to manufacture solar cells... No, it doesn't cost more to manufacture than you get back over the lifetime of the cell. And that's before you consider that the cell should last 25 years (and probably a lot longer) and the cost of electricity in 25 years may be following rather sharper price curves than you'd like.

Re:Tell me slashdot... (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 2 years ago | (#40737793)

In fact, the data that I've seen shows that one type of solar cell (CIGS) can actually *increase* in power output over time. Unlike with silicon cells, where there's a small (usually tapering off) loss over time, the "damage" from ionizing radiation can help remove defects in CIGS cells, functioning as a slow annealing stage.

Re:Tell me slashdot... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40738875)

I can't keep windows in tact for 25 years. I have children, neighbors with children and a lawnmower.

Re:Tell me slashdot... (1)

Tyr07 (2300912) | more than 2 years ago | (#40738319)

There's solar equipment to power houses that will provide a return on the investment on current power prices in 5-10 years, like expensive 10k+ units.
These are from profit companies, if they were not profitable, they would not be in business.
Based on economics, this implies that solar cells do actually generate more power than they consume over the lifetime of the cell.

Not all cells or technologies right now naturally, but your generalization cannot be applied to all forms of solar technology.

Re:Tell me slashdot... (1)

mwlewis (794711) | more than 2 years ago | (#40738599)

As far as being profitable, does that include the impact of government subsidies (e.g., tax credits)?

Re:Tell me slashdot... (1)

Tyr07 (2300912) | more than 2 years ago | (#40738727)

No, that chain runs too deep ;)

But, if using renewable energy such as solar technology to power processes to create solar technology...then?

Re:Tell me slashdot... (1)

mwlewis (794711) | more than 2 years ago | (#40738813)

Depends on the return on investment. Even if the return is positive, there may be more efficient ways to deploy that capital. At least until the technology matures enough to become competitive with alternatives. Of course, the glut of natural gas is pushing that point into the future right now.

Re:Tell me slashdot... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40737391)

This is impractical and will never work.

Re:Tell me slashdot... (1)

undefinedreference (2677063) | more than 2 years ago | (#40738715)

Because you just turned little Timmy's baseball mishap into a much more expensive repair. Five of the ten years you need to recoup your costs, tweaker Billy breaks your window to steal your stuff. Window washer Joe uses a dirty rag to clean your window and leaves it hazy/scratched. There are many reasons it would be less-than-practical. Unless it is as cheap as window tinting and/or included in every window made, the cost risk almost certainly exceeds the value of the energy harvested.

Its not slow glass (1)

toygeek (473120) | more than 2 years ago | (#40737307)

So I'm not interested.

Incandescent bulbs return? (5, Interesting)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:Incandescent bulbs return? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40737489)

Bedrooms have windows so you have at least two escape route in case of fire.

Re:Incandescent bulbs return? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40738847)

I thought bedroom windows were for spying on people?

Re:Incandescent bulbs return? (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#40739071)

Bedrooms have windows so you have at least two escape route in case of fire.

A door would be cheaper and better insulated than any window.

Re:Incandescent bulbs return? (1)

blueg3 (192743) | more than 2 years ago | (#40737735)

It can't be more efficient than using light sources that don't emit the IR radiation in the first place.

If a room is well-lit by windows, you don't need any additional window to remain well-lit. A 30% reduction in light for something that's well-lit, particularly by daylight, is not really noticeable. (Rather, you can only tell if you have both available for comparison. If you reduced the transmission of your windows by 30%, your eyes would simply adjust.)

Re:Incandescent bulbs return? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40737973)

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.

I was with you on the first paragraph ... but you lost me here.

To assume that 30% more lightbulb would be required is to assume that the current lighting provided by the sun is precisely the correct amount, and any more/less would be a problem. It's not. In fact, during these summer months, my living room is too damn bright. A 30% tint would be a godsend.

Yeah, that gives me a great idea! (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 2 years ago | (#40737985)

We'll just make a heat reservoir and hook it up to a heat pump that pumps in heat from outside with a COP [wikipedia.org] of well-greater-than-1, and we'll surround the reservoir in highly efficient IR-absorbing panels, which will capture almost all of the energy, driving the heat pump and yielding energy to spare. Perpetual motion! Take that, laws of physics!

Whether you're dealing with a physical "engine" or not, Carnot must be obeyed, because if he's not, a high-COP heat pump can pump in more heat against the gradient than is needed to generate the power. So obviously there's going to be real limits on waste heat energy recovery using solar panels to absorb infrared, just like waste heat recovery using any mechanism.

Re:Incandescent bulbs return? (1)

jfengel (409917) | more than 2 years ago | (#40738105)

Generally, daylight produces more light than you get from light bulbs. Your eyes adjust so you see just as well either way, but most of the light is unnecessary and eventually devolves to heat.

That heat is useful in cold climes, and obviously this device will be most useful in sunny places. At that, it might even help cool the room as well as producing electricity.

Re:Incandescent bulbs return? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40739089)

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.

Yeah, you could do that. Or you could just use a spherical capsule with a film reflecting IR back onto the filament and passing visible, like they've been doing for years? Google HIR or IRC....

This is awesome! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40737363)

This is a groundbreaking advancement. As long as they're efficiency and cost are comparable to traditional solar panels this will go a long way towards weening us off of fossil fuels. If the weight can be kept down it could also be a nice boon to electric (or even combustion) cars and trucks.

Efficiency? Cost? (1)

hattig (47930) | more than 2 years ago | (#40737373)

So you could install these in your car, and keep your battery topped up at all times, *and* have tinted windows...

If these are as cheap as they say they are, then even if they aren't very efficient, it could be worth installing them on suitable windows, especially in offices.

But until they can put figures to efficiency and cost, it's just self-promotion using a promise of something, rather than the thing itself. Tell me when I can buy a 10m roll of "70% Transparent Energy Film" that I can cut to shape and install.

Re:Efficiency? Cost? (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 2 years ago | (#40737465)

Even if solar is far away or never will become a primary energy source it makes a great backup or supplementary source of power. I live in a house that is covered almost entirely with shade except for a portion of my garage. That small portion of garage is another to charge up a dozen of my DC gadgets.

It's not a lot, but it is something. Think of the exposure to sunlight that cars have on the road. Yes... if you can get enough juice out the material it could top off you battery nicely.

Re:Efficiency? Cost? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40737581)

Efficiency is not an issue is it. No matter what they do, no solar tech will ever get better than 20% efficient. http://www.fas.org/sgp/othergov/invention/pscrl.pdf [fas.org]

Re:Efficiency? Cost? (1)

hattig (47930) | more than 2 years ago | (#40738469)

Apparently this film is 4% efficient. So if it's perfectly placed you'll be getting 40W during sunlight hours per m^2, compared to 200W from a 20% efficient panel.

So efficiency is an issue when you have ~4m^2 of south facing windows. Better off sticking it on the roof instead, that's more like 10m^2 and a more favourable angle. But only if the cost is dirt cheap, and I'm talking hundreds, not thousands.

Re:Efficiency? Cost? (1)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 2 years ago | (#40738729)

The question I would have is if it can produce enough electricity to power an LCD film put over the same window. Slap a battery into the window casing, and you have self powered windows that don't need curtains.

Make it controllable (1)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#40737433)

If this stuff could be further developed so that you would be able to turn it on and off like smart glass it would be a good alternative of shades, generating electricity from excess light. Trying to only convert IR light is a clever idea, but the electricity you get from that isn't much, you are much better off putting a panel on the roof.

Spy product (4, Interesting)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:Spy product (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40739149)

I thought the ordinary method of covert tapping was to bend a fibre just sharp enough to leak a detectable signal?

Insulation Properties (2)

Quantus347 (1220456) | more than 2 years ago | (#40737453)

If it is absorbing mostly on the infrared spectrum, I bet it would help keep your house pretty cool on those hot sunny days.

UV (1)

hendrikboom (1001110) | more than 2 years ago | (#40737491)

If it could have used UV instead of infrared, we could have energy-generating sunscreen!

Re:UV (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40737795)

Regular glass blocks UV rays already. If this is coated on the inside to resist the elements as well as to be connected electrically, that's not going to work at all.

Obvious response (1)

cellocgw (617879) | more than 2 years ago | (#40737515)

When first shown such a window, aren't we all going to say " I see what you did there" ?

Price? (1)

Bill Hayden (649193) | more than 2 years ago | (#40737521)

The key issue with solar has always been price. It seems forever on the cusp of having a positive ROI, but it never actually breaks through. Hopefully the use of plastic as opposed to crystals will bring the cost way down.

Re:Price? (1)

na1led (1030470) | more than 2 years ago | (#40737637)

This is for Rich People who want to live off the grid, and brag how they are so eco-friendly. The rest of us will always be dependent on power from the grid.

Old... (1)

solidraven (1633185) | more than 2 years ago | (#40737537)

I saw something similar at some lame environmentalist convention I was forced to attend a few years ago...
Way to claim you innovated something when you really didn't!

Re:Old... (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 2 years ago | (#40737569)

If you don't care about environmentalism then why go to a "lame environmentalist convention"?

Re:Old... (1)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 2 years ago | (#40737851)

If you don't care about environmentalism then why go to a "lame environmentalist convention"?

obviously he's a demented fan of a wild, untrimmed thatch

Points for popularly misnaming the function? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40737557)

If it absorbs heat (IR) and turns it into energy, it's not a Photo-voltaic device, it's a thermo-couple. Calling it a solar cell is an attempt to align with the fervor over PV cells. This product is neither apparently using visible light or cells. Populist science reporting is the only thing worse than populist science.

Re:Points for popularly misnaming the function? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40737705)

If it absorbs heat (IR) and turns it into energy, it's not a Photo-voltaic device

Let me stop you there before you embarrass yourself.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electromagnetic_spectrum [wikipedia.org]

it's a thermo-couple. Calling it a solar cell is an attempt to align with the fervor over PV cells. This product is neither apparently using visible light or cells. Populist science reporting is the only thing worse than populist science.

Oh dear...

Re:Points for popularly misnaming the function? (1)

jandar (304267) | more than 2 years ago | (#40737739)

If it absorbs heat (IR) and turns it into energy, it's not a Photo-voltaic device, it's a thermo-couple.

Absorbing IR light instead of visible light doesn't turn it into a thermo-coupled device. The article says "photoactive plastic cell" so it's clearly a photo-voltaic device.

Re:Points for popularly misnaming the function? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40738049)

IR is not heat.
IR light is merely one of the ways that heat can be transferred. It's still PV if the light being captured happens to be outside the visible spectrum.

Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40737561)

I can either put ~20% effecient panels on my roof with massive otherwise totally unused surface area.

Or I can choose to turn my relatively tiny windows into solar panels with 4% effeciency at added cost of no longer being able to see out of them clearly.

I think this is great and all and certainly could have some niche applications but is not really something most people would want to buy.

Re:Why? (1)

TheCarp (96830) | more than 2 years ago | (#40738137)

Two things:

1 skylight. Now get the efficiency of a roof top solar panel... with electricity.

2. Blocking IR is huge for windows. We have a few south facing windows with no shade... just blocking IR through them would be huge (I have thoiught of it before too). Especially in the summer, every unit of energy that I don't have to extract and remove with the AC units is money saved.

Anything on top of that, even a little extra electricity (maybe enough to operate the blinds?) is gravy.

Re:Why? (1)

hattig (47930) | more than 2 years ago | (#40738263)

One costs $20k, the other (hopefully) costs $2k. Problem with window coatings is that you tend to get windows replaced every so often, so you might not get the long-life of the rooftop mounted solution. Nothing stopping you mounting this on your roof instead.

You'll still be able to clearly see out of the windows with this solution, you wouldn't notice the tinting unless you have an uncoated window nearby, and it apparently doesn't blur/diffuse incoming light.

Re:Why? (2)

ZeroSumHappiness (1710320) | more than 2 years ago | (#40738393)

3. Twenty story buildings generally have more glass space than roof space.

4. You could put 20% efficient panels on your roof, put 4% efficient film on your windows, or both.

For large glass buildings? (2, Insightful)

webdog314 (960286) | more than 2 years ago | (#40737605)

Depending on the efficiency, it might be an interesting choice for something like one (North or South) side of a large glass building, effectively giving you a large solar array for windows that you were going to put in anyway.

Transparent titanium? (1)

QilessQi (2044624) | more than 2 years ago | (#40737639)

Another breakthrough is the transparent conductor made of a mixture of silver nanowire and titanium dioxide nanoparticles

Sounds nifty, but I'm still holding out for transparent aluminum. :-)

4% (2)

mattr (78516) | more than 2 years ago | (#40737641)

"With this combination, 4% power-conversion efficiency for solution-processed and visibly transparent polymer solar cells has been achieved."

Okaay...

Re:4% (3, Insightful)

Eightbitgnosis (1571875) | more than 2 years ago | (#40738211)

As apposed to the great results we're getting from the 0% efficiency models? For most cases these aren't replacements for traditional solar panels, but rather a supplement.

These could be particularly useful on large skyscrapers

Re:4% (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40738525)

Yeah, skyscrapers and large-scale agricultural greenhouses (replacing non-greenhoused land) are the main use cases. Plants can still grow under this, so you could have dual-purpose land, with a longer growing season (due to being turned into a greenhouse), but maybe not as great as a standard large-scale greenhouse.

4% conversion efficiency (1)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | more than 2 years ago | (#40737655)

Whee.

And like every other solar announcement (0)

killmenow (184444) | more than 2 years ago | (#40737723)

This breakthrough in solar power technology will be available & affordable for you in 10 years.

+10

+10

+10

ad infinitum

Re:And like every other solar announcement (2)

Eightbitgnosis (1571875) | more than 2 years ago | (#40737867)

Solar's getting cheap as hell these days. I've seen residential solar panels at $0.82 a watt

Re:And like every other solar announcement (1)

hattig (47930) | more than 2 years ago | (#40738375)

I've seen residential solar panels at $0.82 a watt

What does that even mean?

$0.82 per watt generated, over its lifetime? per year? Fixed price per peak Watt-hour at time of purchase?

$820 to get a 1kWp solar array sounds cheap, and you need all the equipment to connect the panels to your home supply, etc. In the UK the prices are (from one website I've just Googled and found): "A 2kWp to 4kWp Home Solar system will cost between £5,000 and £8,000 depending on system size; however, through tax free Feed-in Tariff earnings of up to £900 each year, this can be recovered within 10 years."

Re:And like every other solar announcement (1)

Eightbitgnosis (1571875) | more than 2 years ago | (#40738651)

I was talking about peak watt output

Re:And like every other solar announcement (2)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 2 years ago | (#40738951)

Solar is already available and affordable for many uses. I expect a calculator (If I ever own a dedicated unit again) to run off of solar power. Solar yard lighting is also heavily used because it is widely available and affordable. Solar for road signs in remote areas, and emergency call boxes are also the norm.

30 years ago, photovoltaic panels were an oddity. Your average person never saw them. Today, they are everywhere. You can't walk through a Walmart without seeing them all over the place for sale.

If it blocked UV instead (2)

dorzak (142233) | more than 2 years ago | (#40737753)

Blocking UV would have some benefits as well.

I seem to recall IR it is blocking is also a major part of heat transference. There could be some definite savings on cooling bills throughout the sun belt/southwest.

Anybody else reminded of the Heinlein stories where Solar panels took off when they started generating energy from the full range of cosmic radiation bombarding the Earth? Led to commuter roads in "The Roads must roll".

Cooling (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40737807)

Might save on building cooling as well if it filters out IR radiation

Conservation is oppression (1)

cryfreedomlove (929828) | more than 2 years ago | (#40738269)

I'm a supporter of efforts like the development of these windows. The biggest difference in this world between the haves and the have nots is access to affordable energy. If you get that, you get clean water, refrigeration, air conditioning, transportation, etc.

This is why I am in favor of technology developments that focus on energy generation. I'm against using state power to artificially drive conservation because most of the time that really means making access to energy more expensive. The end result of that sort of conservation means that only rich people will have access to energy and the gaps between rich and poor will get wider. No thanks.

Re:Conservation is oppression (2)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 2 years ago | (#40739005)

Beyond that, conservation alone is a dead end. It is an acceptance that we are going to run out, and we just want to make the party last one more day.

Solar car roof windows? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40738703)

Would they work as sunroof wdo's on an electric car? The summer sun here in NV is so fierce you could probably drive the Indy 500 after a one day charge in the parking lot while you're at work.

Finally! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40738907)

My green house can now generate more energy than my outhouse!!!

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