Turn Any Surface Into A Solar Panel With Invisible Cells

Image: Bloomberg
Image: Bloomberg

Short Bytes: Ubiquitous Energy is on a mission to address the power of needs of new-age digital devices with their ClearView Power technology which is a transparent solar cell film. This acts as an unlimited power source for the devices and finds its use on glass windows for the purpose of electricity generation.

Solar cells can be regarded as like a goodie bag that contains an everlasting number of gifts for everyone. In a literal sense, solar energy is that inexhaustible gift for which these solar cells act as a medium, but in the current scenario, one has to shell out some serious hard cash to get these goodie bags. Also, these conventional solar cells don’t furnish much efficiency in return to the price one has to pay for it. Well, there are other technologies developed by MIT researchers which allow you generate electricity while you walk.

One thing about these conventional solar cells, it takes a lot of space to set up a solar cell-based electricity generation system which is not possible in jam-packed power-hungry cities. One company, founded by Richard Lunt, Miles Barr, and Vladimir Bulović – all MIT brains – has the answer this situation and for the dilemma faced by your smartphone, when it reminds you of the low battery status.

Read This: How to Convert Light Waves to Electricity with Optical Rectenna?

They have developed a transparent solar cell which they’ve named ClearView Power technology. The solar cell is a thin film – 1 by 1000th of a millimeter – which allows 90% transparency, as it only absorbs the ultraviolet and infrared lights from the falling sunlight but I can’t assure you whether it’ll work with the artificial sunlight or not. The visible light gets channeled through the film smoothly.

The film can be used on any surface (smartphones, windows, laptops, etc.) to produce electricity which is currently accomplished at 10% efficiency. Ubiquitous Energy is working on increasing the electron harvesting capabilities of the solar cell film. These solar cells are advantageous over their ugly looking counterparts by the fact that they allow the surface – on which they’re applied – to retain its aesthetic mien.

The company says that the level of transparency of the solar cell film has no relation to the efficiency of the solar cell. For the conventional black solar cells, an increase in the level of transparency is inversely proportional to their efficiency. In this case, Ubiquitous Energy’s solar cell film is a complete win-win.

Image: Ubiquitous Energy
Image: Ubiquitous Energy

Ubiquitous Energy is highly determined to bring their technology to the market and has been working on the pilot launch for the mass production of their next-gen solar cell. The company is also building a production facility “with a complete set of fabrication, characterization, and environmental testing tools” and has partnered with other players to develop prototypes.

This facility is designed to prepare ClearView Power™ for mass production. Non-toxic, readily available materials are deposited by industry-standard vacuum deposition techniques common in high-throughput film coating processes, and the low-temperature deposition process can utilize rigid or flexible substrates.

— Cited from Ubiquitous Energy’s website.

The company says that their solar cell film is made up from low-cost non-toxic materials, this will act as the doorway to an expeditious adoption by various partners and OEMs. This technology will refashion the way we fulfill our electricity needs, ultimately leading to the world of charging free devices. And you won’t be the one carrying a heavy power brick to charge your smartphone.

A thin ClearView Power film is designed for devices packed with loads of apps and services which drink the battery juice. It will cover the display of the smartphone or other devices like smart watches, tablets, and eReaders, etc. It will power up the device using the sunlight falling on the device screen and will enhance its battery life – “up to infinite” – the company says.

Other than mobile devices, the company has plans to implement its ClearView Power technology into the Internet of Things. One spellbinding example given is of Electronic Shelf Labels used in retail stores for enabling dynamic pricing. Ubiquitous Energy wants to coat the digital price tags with ClearView film to give them unlimited battery life. Another implementation is seen in the form of Smart Glass which will be used in buildings imparting a level of transparency in addition to acting as a wellspring of electricity using the ultraviolet and infrared rays.

Source: Popular Science

Also Read: How WiTricity will allow you to use Wireless Electricity?

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