For us ecogeeks, windows have traditionally been seen as a weak link in building design. Although they allow essential light into a building, they are a leading culprit for thermal energy loss.
However, all this could be set to change as a result of an exciting new collaboration aiming to reinvent windows as clear, clean energy providers. A team of academics at Queensland University of Technology has teamed up with Dyesol to develop transparent dye-infused solar cells that would significantly reduce building energy costs, and could even allow windows to generate surplus energy to be either stored or sold.
The development has been hailed by some as the most promising advance in solar cell technology since the invention of the silicon cell.
Dyesol’s solar cells use innovative technology called "artificial photosynthesis," where a dye works in much the same way as chlorophyll to absorb light and produce electricity. Panels are made up of “an electrolyte, a layer of titania (a pigment used in white paints and toothpaste), and ruthenium dye sandwiched between glass. Light striking the dye excites electrons, which are absorbed by the titania to become an electric current.”
Since they don’t require expensive raw materials, and require less energy, dye solar cells are much cheaper to manufacture than silicon cells. Dyesol says the panels will be available over the next two years.
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