These Transparent Solar Cells Can Generate Power Under Low-Light Conditions

These transparent solar cells can be used for glass buildings, electric cars, sensors, and smartphones

November 11, 2020


Researchers at the Incheon National University claimed that they have designed a transparent solar cell that can generate power even under low-light conditions.

The researchers explained that traditional solar cells, which are made up of metal-oxide semiconductors, have a slight advantage over solution-based solar cells. However, metal-oxide transparent solar cells’ potential has not been fully explored to date, they added.

According to the research report, the researchers installed a thin layer of amorphous silicon between two transparent metal-oxide semiconductors intending to develop a high-power generating transparent solar cell. Transparent solar cells utilize the invisible light that falls in the ultraviolet range.

“We hope to extend the use of transparent photovoltaic (TPV) design to all kinds of materials, right from glass buildings to mobile devices like electric cars, smartphones, and sensors,” said the researchers.

In its report, the researchers noted that the novel transparent photovoltaic device with a thin silicon layer allows the utilization of longer-wavelength light that enhances photon collection efficiency. The newly developed TPV device also enables the faster transport of charged particles to electrodes. The researchers used the transparent solar cell to operate the direct current motor of a fan to examine its power generation capacity.

The researchers will use innovative materials, including two-dimensional (2D) semiconductors, sulfide semiconductors, and nanocrystals of metal-oxides, to advance their design for metal-oxide based TPV devices.

In August 2020, A research team from the University of Michigan said they set a new efficiency record for color-neutral, transparent solar cells. Instead of following the conventional silicon-based design, the team attained 8.1% efficiency and 43% transparency with an organic/carbon-based design. The researchers said these organic solar cells are compatible with windows that cover the face of most buildings.

Earlier this year, Australian scientists, led by members of the ARC Center of Excellence in Exciton Science, published a research paper stating that they had succeeded in producing semi-transparent perovskite solar cells that generate electricity. This breakthrough could allow windows in buildings and automobiles to generate electricity.

Image credit: ENERGY.GOV, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons