april 6, 2009

Anti-glare coating makes see-through solar cell

Put an antiglare coating on an organic solar cell and you've got windows that generate electricity.

Making a window that's also a solar cell involves a major trade-off. To generate useful amounts of electricity solar cells need to absorb as much light as possible, but to be transparent windows need to absorb as little visible light as possible.

The prototype power-generating window absorbs ultraviolet and infrared light but transmits blue-green visible light. The organic solar cell, which has a conversion efficiency of 0.5 percent, is made of a blue dye and carbon nanospheres. The key to the device is an antireflection coating on the solar cell's ultrathin silver electrode. The coating increases the electrode's transparency to visible light.

The organic solar cell is layered on the inside of a double-glazed window, which protects the cell. Organic solar cells are made at moderate temperatures. This keeps costs down and opens the possibility of combining solar cell and window manufacturing.

The next step is broadening the portion of the visible spectrum the device transmits and increasing its relatively low efficiency.

Research paper:
Organic Solar Cells with Semitransparent Metal Back Contacts for Power Window Applications
ChemSusChem, published online March 19, 2009

Researchers' homepages:
Robert Koeppe
Vladimir F. Razumov
Niyazi Serdar Sariciftci

Related stories and briefs:
Window generates electricity -- related research

Back to ERN April 6, 2009



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