MSU researchers are working on a transparent luminescent solar concentrator that can be used on buildings, cell phones and other devices with clear surfaces.

The solar harvesting system uses small organic modules developed by Prof. Richard Lunt to absorb specific wavelengths of sunlight. The infrared light is guided to the edge of the plastic, where it is converted to electricity by thin strips of PV cells.

One of the benefits of this new development is its flexibility, and even though it’s at an early stage, has the potential to be scaled to commercial or industrial applications with an affordable cost.

“It opens a lot of area to deploy solar energy in a nonintrusive way,” Lunt said. “It can be used on tall buildings with lots of windows or any kind of mobile device that demands high aesthetic quality, like a phone or e-reader. Ultimately, we want to make solar harvesting surfaces that you do not even know are there.”

Lunt said more work is needed to improve its energy-producing efficiency. Currently it is able to produce a solar conversion efficiency close to 1 percent, but noted they aim to reach efficiencies beyond 5 percent when fully optimized. The best colored LSC has an efficiency of around 7 percent.

Click here for more details.