Design Engineering

See-through solar cells open way for power generating windows

By Design Engineering Staff   

General Energy

UCLA developed transparent solar cell combines photo-active polymer and nano-particle composite electrode.

Researchers at UCLA announced the development of a transparent polymer solar cell that produces electricity at approximately 4 percent efficiency but appears 70 percent transparent, opening the possibility of power generating windows.

Developed in concert with the California NanoSystems Institute, the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science and UCLA’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, the clear solar cells are made from a photo-active polymer that converts near-infrared light to electric current. According to Yang Yang, a UCLA professor of materials science and engineering and the project’s leader, the cell is light, flexible and can be produced in high volume at low cost

Just as important was the discovery of the cell’s transparent conductor. In place of an opaque metal electrode, the cell uses a composite of silver nanowire and titanium dioxide nanoparticles. This composition not only makes the cell transparent, but also cheaper to fabricate through solution processing.

“These results open the potential for visibly transparent polymer solar cells as add-on components of portable electronics, smart windows and building-integrated photovoltaics and in other applications,” said Yang, who also is director of the Nano Renewable Energy Center at California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI).


Their study appears in the journal ACS Nano.


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