Deborah Netburn reports on the invention of a transparent solar cell made out of plastic by a team of scientists lead by Yang Yang, a professor at UCLA and director of the Nano Renewable Energy Center at California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI). As a result of their invention, notes Netburn, "In the future, solar panels will no longer be restricted to the roof. You'll be able to put them on your windows too."
According to Netburn, "There is a catch, of course: Transparent solar cells are not nearly as efficient as opaque ones. Yang said that by solving the visibility problem, 30% of a cell's energy-absorbing capability had to be sacrificed."What the cells lose in efficiency, they can hopefully make up for in economies of scale made possible by reduced cost and ease of installation. "The good news is that the process is very economical, and the material can be fabricated as a liquid that can be sprayed on a surface, much in the same way that car factories spray paint onto automobiles."
The product may be ready for commercial use in 5 years.