Transparent solar cells that generate electricity have been created by scientists from the University of California, Los Angeles. The polymer solar cells (PSC) generate electricity by absorbing infrared light. The scientists created the unique solar cells from photoactive plastic that converts infrared light into electricity.
"Our new PSCs are made from plastic-like materials and are lightweight and flexible. More importantly, they can be produced in high volume at low cost," said Yang Yang, a professor of materials science and engineering at UCLA, in a statement.
PSC, made with polymers that covert sunlight into electricity, have attracted great attention due to their advantages over competing solar cell technologies.
Scientists have been intensely studying PSCs for their potential in making unique advances for broader applications. Several such applications would be enabled by high-performance visibly transparent photovoltaic (PV) devices, including building-integrated photovoltaics and integrated PV chargers for portable electronics.
"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.
Scientists have tried to create transparent and semi-transparent PSC before. These developments often resulted in low visible light transparency and low device efficiency because suitable polymeric PV materials and efficient transparent conductors were not well deployed in device design and fabrication.
Now, scientists have developed PSCs that produce much more power. They claim that the infrared photoactive polymer absorbs more near-infrared light but is less sensitive to visible light, thereby balancing solar cell performance and transparency.
Scientists created the new cells using a mixture of silver nanowire and titanium dioxide nanoparticles.
The composite electrode also allows solar cells to be manufactured economically by solution processing.
"We are excited by this new invention on transparent solar cells, which applied our recent advances in transparent conducting windows to fabricate these devices," said Paul S Weiss, director at the California NanoSystems Institute, in a statement.