Michigan State University researchers have developed transparent solar concentrators


Nick Fetty | August 20, 2014
A transparent luminescent solar concentrator module. (Photo by Yimu Zhao)
A transparent luminescent solar concentrator module. (Photo by Yimu Zhao)

A team of researchers at Michigan State University have developed the technology to harvest the sun’s energy on a transparent surface.

The researchers utilize a technology known as a “transparent luminescent solar concentrator” which can be used on buildings, cell phones, and other devices with a flat, clear surface. These concentrators allow energy from the sun’s rays to be harvested while still being able to see clearly through the glass.

This particular technology is not new but researchers have now found a way to harvest the energy more efficiently. The researchers have also figured out how to do so using a clear surface as opposed to the colored glass that has been used in the past.

Yimu Zhao, a doctoral student in chemical engineering and materials science, and Richard Lunt, assistant professor of chemical engineering and materials science, work together in a lab. (Photo by G.L. Kohuth)
Yimu Zhao, a doctoral student in chemical engineering and materials science, and Richard Lunt, assistant professor of chemical engineering and materials science, work together in a lab. (Photo by G.L. Kohuth)

This new technology allows developers and researchers considerable flexibility. Solar concentrators will be able to be used on everything from building and car windows to smart phones and other electronic devices. “Ultimately we want to make solar harvesting surfaces that you do not even know are there,” said Richard Lunt, assistant professor of chemical engineering and materials science at Michigan State.

This research was recently featured on the cover of July’s issue of Advanced Optical Materials.

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