The new windows will be formed of stacked tinted thin plates of glass which each target a specific wavelength of light, which they gather and emit intensely to cells at their edges. (Source: Donna Coveney)
An artistic rendition detailing how the new system could easily be applied to existing panels to make them more efficient. (Source: Nicolle Rager Fuller, NSF)
Marc Baldo, associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science (left), and Shalom Goffri, postdoc in MIT's Research Laboratory of Electronics (right), show off examples of the new solar window layers. (Source: Donna Coveney)
A new solar design will soon be able to contribute significantly to powering city buildings
There is much ongoing research into making photovoltaic solar power, common among commercial business and residential installations, more efficient. While many focus on the cells themselves, MIT researchers are focusing on a different approach by changing the places where cells can be deployed and how light gets to them.
MIT researchers built upon previous research into colored dyes from the 1970s and created special glass panels. Each panel absorbs a different wavelength of light and carries it to solar cells. The result: the first potentially viable solar windows.
The new research is reported in the July 11 issue of the journal Science. In it, the researchers detail how the build up their novel "solar concentrator". Explains Marc A. Baldo, leader of the work and the Esther and Harold E. Edgerton Career Development Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering, "Light is collected over a large area [like a window] and gathered, or concentrated, at the edges."