One bug-a-boo that has rained on the parade of generating electricity on glass windows is that contact areas on the solar cells have had to be metallic. There hasn't been an acceptable substitute material which could be made transparent. But researchers now claim they have overcome this hurdle in creating the first-of-its-kind see-thru solar glass.
New Energy Technologies, Inc. says it has figured out a way to replace the metal contact component in its SolarWindow with non-metallic compounds, and in so doing, gotten significantly greater transparency, a key factor in advancing the technology along the commercial product development path.
New Energy says eliminating metal has proved especially challenging because the metal component acts as the negative ‘polar contact’ – an important function in collecting the electricity generated from solar cells on the surface of the glass.
The production of solar-generated electricity on glass is made possible by the world’s tiniest working solar cells which have been successfully applied on glass surfaces by company researchers.These ultra-small solar cells measure less than a quarter the size of a grain of rice, are fabricated using environmentally-friendly materials, and successfully produce electricity, as demonstrated in a published peer-reviewed study in the Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy of the American Institute of Physics.
(Click here to view study: http://dx.doi.org/10.1063/1.2998825)
The firm’s ultra-small solar cells enable development of an ultra-thin film, only 1/10th of a micrometer thick. In contrast, conventional thin films measure several micrometers thick and inhibit transparency. In photovoltaic applications such as see-through windows where transparency is a primary concern, ordinary thin film solar cells cannot be utilized to produce a transparent solar window for application in homes, offices, and commercial buildings.
The release announcing the development is here: http://www.businesswire.com/portal/site/home/email/headlines/?ndmViewId=news_view&newsLang=en&div=-2102307854&newsId=20100104005577