Alternative Energy

Alternative Energy

Alternative energy news, and information about renewable energy technologies.

Jun 19

Transparent Electronics: A Solar Energy Breakthrough

Posted in Energy Inventions | Photovoltaic Cells | Solar Power

Transparent Electronics Not even in our wildest dreams have we anticipated that while we are simply looking out the window enjoying the outside view our windows can simultaneously produce energy for our household needs! Not only windows but the facade of the house, too, might be harnessing the power of solar energy. This might be our future domestic power supply scenario. This can be possible with the help of transparent solar cells. These solar cells can increase the surface area to produce energy.

Researchers in Germany have taken help of advanced physics models to develop transparent materials that could act as solar cells. The team from Fraunhofer Institute for Mechanics of Materials (IWM) is developing transparent base materials that could be doped with atoms to attain conductive coatings. The transparent base requires one coating to conduct the electricity via electrons. That will be acknowledged as the n-conductors. They will need another coating in which electron holes facilitate the electricity to flow, known as the p-conductors.

But the IWM team is facing few hurdles. While n-conducting transparent materials are easily available for their work, they are facing some problems with p-conducting materials. First problem is their conductivity that is too low and the second difficulty is their transparency that is poor. So manufacturers have to find a transparent material that gels well with both n and p doping.

Wolfgang Körner, who is the research scientist at the IWM, said: “If transparent p-conductors with adequate conductivity could be produced, it would be possible to realize completely transparent electronics.”

Researchers are utilizing indium tin oxide for the n-conductors, but the hitch is that this is costly. Indium is considered an extraordinary commodity and it has reported a tenfold increase in price since 2002. We know that for commercial success of transparent solar cells they have to use cheaper materials. Therefore the research team is looking for alternatives. The team has to confront other questions too, such as best suitable material, what they should be doped with to acquire first-rate conductivity, and how high-quality their transparency is. Researchers are trying to find out the grain boundaries i.e. irregularities in the ordered crystal structure. They have a herculean task ahead of them because they want to duplicate these defect structures atom by atom. Special replication methods compute how the electrons are distributed in the structures and thus in the solid body. From the data the researchers will determine how conductive and transparent the material is. Körner said, “We have found, for example, that phosphorus is suitable for p-doping zinc oxide, but that nitrogen is more promising.”

  • Phillip Greene

    I was enthused about this “breakthrough”, until I read further and learned of all of the caveats. I would rather wait to hear about this possibility until it is beyond the maybe stage. It’s good fodder for the blog but gets our hopes up unnecessarily.

  • Amanda Denner Glick

    Awesome info! We should be so thankful that thee are such phenomenal scientists who are finding promising answers to the sometimes grim questions facing us in our future!

  • Michaela Moye

    This is fantastic news! I hope that my country, Nigeria, might cotton on to this – the power situation is abysmal

  • Kyra

    It sounds really good, but I’m now a bit worried that corporations could look at this info and start buying up whatever is needed for p and using it in some kind of futuristic control conspiracy thing, like ultraviolet. And yes I’ve been watching too many movies and I’m probable a little overenthusiastic because of it, but it is an ethically debatable problem.

    Though it will probably just lead to it only being available to the rich and famous. Which would really upset me if I’d spent loads of time and effort on this technology.

    Maybe p should be kept a little quit, if there’s not a lot of it?

  • Cancerman72

    That truly would be a breakthrough and if cheap at the same time it would become viable. Doesn’t mention if it can generate a lot of energy as traditional solar cells

  • Howard Butts

    I think this is great. One always has window in your house so it is the perfect match. And one wouldn’t mind washing windows so much if it meant making more power.

  • sunil gadhwal

    This technology will be very useful in th field of harnessing solar energy.

Family-sized Solar Car to Race in World Solar Challenge


Solar Team Great Britain has started a kickstarter page to help fund their design for entry in the 2017 World Solar Challenge. Founder Steven Heape leads a team of volunteers

Floating Solar Panels: A Viable Solution?


Since 2011, French Company Ciel & Terre has been developing large-scale floating solar solutions. Their innovative Hydrelio Floating PV system allows standard PV panels to be installed on large bodies

Tulip Shaped Solar Plants to be Installed in Ethiopia


AORA Solar has announced that it will begin construction of its solar-biogas power plants in Ethiopia. Construction of the first pilot plant will start by mid-2015. Ethiopia’s Minister of Water,

3D Printed Solar Energy Trees


How would nature do it? Researchers at the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland may be discovering the answer, thanks to advancing solar and 3D printing technologies. They have developed

The Benefits of Solar Power (Infographic)

Solar Power World Map

Home Inspector Bill Barber recently created an excellent infographic that details how solar panels can power homes and help the environment at the same time. According to the infographic,

Oriental Hornet: Expert Solar Power Harvester

Oriental Hornet: Expert Solar Power Harvester

Do you know who is the most competent solar power expert, according to a research team from Tel Aviv University? It is the humble common Oriental hornet found

Brooklyn Bridge Park: Greenest Destination in New York City

Brooklyn Bridge Park: Greenest Destination in New York City

New York City’s Brooklyn Bridge Park is getting even greener with the addition of a solar powered electric vehicle (EV) charging station – the first of its kind in

Artificial Electronic Super Skin – Powered By Stretchable Solar Cells

Artificial Electronic Super Skin – Powered By Stretchable Solar Cells

Zhenan Bao, Stanford researcher, is keen to create “Super skin.” Taking her previously created super-sensitive sensor a step ahead, she is now creating a super skin that will be