Solar-Panel Windows Made Possible by Quantum Dot Breakthrough


Windows that double as solar panels could soon be a reality following a breakthrough in quantum dot research that could have significant implications on the way the sun's energy is harvested in the future.

Researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory and the University of Milano-Bicocca synthesised a new generation of quantum dots that they were able to embed in a transparent polymer to capture the sun's energy.

Quantum dots – nanocrystals made of semiconductor materials – are already used in solar panel systems due to their low-cost and mechanical properties, as well as transistors, LEDs and lasers.

"The key accomplishment is the demonstration of large-area luminescent solar concentrators (LSCs) that use a new generation of specially engineered quantum dots," said Victor Klimov, lead researcher at the Centre of Advanced Solar Photophysics at Los Alamos.

The findings, published in Nature Photonics, demonstrate how a slab of transparent LSC material is able to capture and transport light energy through quantum dots.

Written By: Anthony Cuthbertson
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  1. Imagine the change in architecture when we can create glass buildings that have the capacity to act as their own power source. Imagine what a power like this could do for greenhouses.

    I’d love to live in a home that was covered wall to ceiling with hanging plants so that when the sun came through the window it would first charge my electronics while the remaining power would go direction to the plants which happened to produce enough food to keep me fed. Amazing little space capsules in Nevada where the sun is always shining, the food always growing and a limitless opportunity for connection via technology.

    Fantastic stuff…

  2. windows that double as solar panels – significant promise for large areas

    Are these panels similar to tinted windows, one can see out, but not in? If so, another benefit could be a reduction of bird deaths from impacts (bird friendly!).

    10% > efficiency

    If proved, is this figure high enough to lure large building owners to implementation, also, panels affordable for homeowners?

  3. The real win with this is using quantum dots tuned to particular wavelengths. Green absorbing glass on glass houses will leave behind the magenta that chlorophyll can absorb. The otherwise useless green light is flogged to the grid as electricity then purchased back in the evening when it powers red and blue LEDs to continue the growing period when CO2 levels are raised and enhanced growth rates are possible.

    LED growing lights are even now being used to increase yields and they can be incredibly efficient putting light only into areas where it is needed. This could complement it nicely.

  4. So it finally happened….Solar window glass has been thought of a while back…….but quantum patterns is a new approach….
    And instead of solar panels mounted on rooves the entire roof could be both solar and water collecting….

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