Researchers at UCLA announced on July 29 that they had developed a new solar cell material that could lead the way for more flexibility in solar cell applications. Graduate students at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science have created a thin material that absorbs infrared light rather than visible light, making it transparent and suitable for use in windows and other areas that are meant to be see-through.

The research is to be published in Energy & Environmental Science, a journal of the Royal Society of Chemistry. The scientists claim the new material converts 7 percent of the sunlight that hits it into electricity. While this is still less than the 15-25 percent efficiency rates of conventional photovoltaic (PV) solar cells, it is a vast improvement over previous attempts to create transparent solar absorbing materials, which had typically achieved conversions of less than 5 percent.

“Using two solar cells with the new interfacial materials in between produces close to two times the energy we originally observed [in previous attempts to create transparent solar cells],” Yang Yang, the Carol and Lawrence E. Tannas, Jr., Professor of Engineering, said in a news release. “We anticipate this device will offer new directions for solar cells, including the creation of solar windows on homes and office buildings.”

One important feature of the new material is that it is relatively easy to manufacture, making it commercially viable.

While this technology may be years away from entering the consumer marketplace, conventional solar PV systems for your home are here and provide numerous economic and financial benefits for your home. For more information, contact West Coast Solar today.