These Semi-Transparent Solar Cells Could Also Serve As Windows

Korean researchers have developed semi-transparent solar cells that reflect solar heat energy and could one day be used as solar windows.

AsianScientist (Aug. 12, 2016) – A research team in Korea has created semi-transparent perovskite solar cells that could possibly substitute ordinary glass windows one day. Their work was published in Advanced Energy Materials.

Typical solar cells are made of crystalline silicon, but it is difficult to make them translucent. While semi-transparent solar cells under development use organic or dye-sensitized materials, their power conversion efficiency is relatively low.

Meanwhile, perovskites are photovoltaic materials which are cheap to produce, easy to manufacture and highly efficient. The team led by Professor Yoo Seunghyup of the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology and Professor Park Nam-Gyu of the Sungkyunkwan University has developed a top transparent electrode (TTE) that works well with perovskite solar cells.

Unlike conventional transparent electrodes focusing only on transmitting visible light, the proposed TTE lets through visible light while reflecting infrared rays. The semi-transparent solar cells made with the proposed TTEs exhibited average power conversion efficiency as high as 13.3 percent.

Importantly, the semi-transparent perovskite solar cells also functioned effectively as thermal mirrors. In an experiment using a halogen lamp, the research team illuminated an object through three mediums, including the solar cell. When exposed through a glass window, the object’s temperature rose to 36.8°C, but the solar cell allowed the object to remain below 27°C. This is because the solar cell rejects solar heat energy by reflection, rather than absorption.

The team believes that if the semi-transparent perovskite solar cells are scaled up for practical applications, they can be used in solar windows for buildings and automobiles. Here, the cells will not only generate electrical energy but also enable smart heat management of indoor environments, thereby using solar energy more efficiently and effectively.

“The present work can be further fine-tuned to include colored solar cells and to incorporate flexible or rollable form factors, as they will allow for greater design freedom and thus offer more opportunities for them to be integrated into real-world objects and structures such as cars, buildings, and houses,” said Yoo.

The article can be found at: Kim et al. (2016) Empowering Semi-transparent Solar Cells with Thermal-mirror Functionality.


Source: Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology.
Disclaimer: This article does not necessarily reflect the views of AsianScientist or its staff.

Asian Scientist Magazine is an award-winning science and technology magazine that highlights R&D news stories from Asia to a global audience. The magazine is published by Singapore-headquartered Wildtype Media Group.

Related Stories from Asian Scientist