Imagine a high-rise office building powered exclusively by the windows installed in it. Imagine turning an entire city into one giant solar panel. With all the glass in cities like Chicago, New York and LA, transparent solar cells could very well do that. Startup tech company, Ubiquitous, has developed a method using organic chemistry to make solar cells that are completely transparent and are able to harness the sun’s energy.
“It’s a whole new way of thinking about solar energy, because now you have a lot of potential surface area,” says Miles Barr, chief executive and co-founder of Silicon Valley startup Ubiquitous Energy, a company spun off by researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Michigan State University. “You can let your imagination run wild. We see this eventually going virtually everywhere.”
“The beauty of organic chemistry is there is a big variety of materials available,” says Nikos Kopidakis, senior research scientist at the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colorado. “The sky’s the limit. It can’t be just anything, but we have a decent understanding of the requirements. You can design the material to look green to the eye, blue, any other color, or transparent.”
This research and development is exciting to see and hopefully this is a viable solution to our energy needs for the future. As we continue to populate the earth and consume more energy, it’s important that we find alternate methods to better care for the planet we live on.