NREL Scientist, Dr. Heather A.S. Platt (foreground) and New Energy Principal Scientist, Dr. Scott R. Hammond Work on Company’s SolarWindowTM Technology
Scientists Successfully Transport Electricity Using Virtually Invisible Wires, Under Development for SolarWindowTM (Displayed on a Glass Slide)
Columbia based start-up company New Energy Technologies recently announced it was able to improve its see-through glass coating technology which was already shown to posses the potential to be sprayed on windows to create low cost photovoltaic cells.
Although somewhat similar products have been under development by other companies for years, including EnSol, Rainbow solar, Pytagors Solar and others, the SolarWindow is said to be unique in that it doesn’t have to be applied at a high temperature or in a vacuum – procedures which are considered to be costly and expensive. New Energy Technologies also mentioned thatits organic solar cell are less than one-tenth the thickness of other “thin films” used to create solar cells (only 1/1000th the thickness of a human hair). Another said advantage is the ability to outperform other technologies by up to ten-times when it comes to generating electricity from artificial light (something that you will be able to find in abundance in any home or office event during the winter or at night).
Together with researchers from NREL (National Renewable Energy Laboratory) New Energy Technologies researchers developed low-cost materials and a special application technique that could help optimize the movement of electrons within the ultra-thin solar cells. This advancement should increase the amount of electricity produced by the SolarWindow see-through prototype currently under development at the company’s lab when exposed to both natural or artificial light.
The most recent announcement is the latest in a long line of previous announcements by the company marking other advancements towards commercialization of the technology (the company filed about 10 different patents so far).
According to Dr. Scott R. Hammond, Principal Scientist at New Energy Technologies: “the recent discovery could also favorably improve durability and shelf-life of the Company’s future SolarWindow products”. According to New Energy Technologies, NREL scientists have previously published unrelated results that demonstrated some so called dramatic improvements to the operational and shelf-life of unprotected ( or non-encapsulated) photovoltaic devices utilizing related materials when subjected to continuous illumination.”
A short 2010 video on the SolarWindow from CNBC
As of now there still seem to be some time to go before the technology will be ready for full commercialization but the potential for low cost see-through window that can actually produce energy from both sunlight and artificial light is surly there for the first company that will reach this goal.
Iddo has a B.A. in Philosophy and Cognitive Science and an M.A. in Philosophy of Science from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He is currently writing his Ph.D. thesis on the relationship between the scientific community and industry. Iddo was awarded the 2006 Bar Hillel philosophy of science prize for his work on the relationship between science and technology. He is a member of the board of the lifeboat foundation and was the editor of several high-profile science and technology websites since 1999.