May 2, 2011

Converting Windows into Solar Generators.

MIT is up to it again- with constructive plans for the rest of humankind. Behold!



Ugh, that didn't have the effect I expected.

Getting back on track, if MIT's new development pans out as expected, someday the entire surface area of a building's windows could be used to generate electricity without losing any degree of transparency.

The essential part is an organic-based photoelectric cell, which utilises the energy of the infrared-spectrum electromagnetic waves while allowing visible light to pass through. Coated on a pane of common window glass, it could provide power for various electrical devices, and will cut installation costs by taking advantage of existing window structures.

Vladimir Bulovic', professor of electrical engineering in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, says:

"These days, anywhere from half to two-thirds of the cost of a traditional, thin-film solar-power system comes from those installation costs, and up to half of the cost of the panels themselves is for the glass and structural parts."

But the transparent photovoltaic system he developed with Richard Lunt, a postdoctoral researcher in the Research Laboratory of Electronics, could eliminate many of those associated costs, they say.

A paper by Bulovic' and Lunt recounting their new system has been published online in the journal Applied Physics Letters, and will appear in a upcoming issue of the print edition.

Earlier endeavors to create functioning transparent solar cells either had severely low degrees of efficiency(less than 1 percent of incoming solar radiation is converted to electricity), or have impeded too much light to be of much practical use in windows. However, the MIT professionals were able to achieve their objective - by formulating a specific chemical compound for their cells that, when combined with partially infrared-reflective coatings, gives both high visible-light transparency and much better efficiency than earlier versions — comparable to that of non-transparent organic photovoltaic cells.

Picture Unrelated.

In a new building, or one where windows are being replaced anyway, adding the transparent solar cell material to the glass would be a relatively small incremental cost, since the cost of the glass, frames and installation would all be the same with or without the solar component, the researchers say, although it is too early in the process to be able to estimate actual costs. And with modern double-pane windows, the photovoltaic material could be coated on one of the inner surfaces, where it would be completely shelthered from weather or window washing. Only wiring connections to the window and a voltage controller would be needed to complete the system in a home.

In addition, much of the cost of existing solar panels comes from the glass substrate that the cells are placed on, and from the handling of that glass in the factory. Again, much of that cost would not apply if the process were made part of an existing window-manufacturing operation. Overall, Bulovic' says, “a large fraction of the cost could be eliminated” compared to today’s solar installations.

This will not be the ultimate solution to all the nation’s energy needs, Bulovic' says, but rather it is part of “a family of solutions” for producing power without greenhouse-gas emissions. “It’s attractive, because it can be added to things already being deployed,” rather than requiring land and infrastructure for a whole new system.


On an unrelated note, did you know what does the O and the K in OK stand for?

taken directly from 

OK -Word Origin-
1839, only survivor of a slang fad in Boston and New York c.1838-9 for abbreviations of common phrases with deliberate, jocular misspellings (cf. K.G. for "no go," as if spelled "know go"); in this case, "oll korrect." Further popularized by use as an election slogan by the O.K. Club, New York boosters of Democratic president Martin Van Buren's 1840 re-election bid, in allusion to his nickname Old Kinderhook, from his birth in the N.Y. village of Kinderhook. Van Buren lost, the word stuck, in part because it filled a need for a quick way to write an approval on a document, bill, etc. The noun is first attested 1841; the verb 1888. Spelled out as okeh, 1919, by Woodrow Wilson, on assumption that it represented Choctaw okeh "it is so" (a theory which lacks historical documentation); this was ousted quickly by okay after the appearance of that form in 1929. Okey-doke is student slang first attested 1932. Greek immigrants to America who returned home early 20c. having picked up U.S. speech mannerisms were known in Greece as okay-boys, among other things.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper 

source for the Powerplant Windows:


  1. That is so cool, i can only imagine how much energy were gonna save with new innovations such as this.

  2. Hmm this looks intresting

  3. This will perfectly match with solar-powered hydrogen-producing cell, that we're working on in our lab =)

  4. Solar power will be the only way to go in many years to come. People are using up energy exponentially and we really gonna have to depend on renewable sources.

    Unless the sun dies.

  5. I heard that OK means zero casualties. O being zero and K would stant for casualties. I'd figure that for soldiers on the front, a no casualty day is an OK day...

  6. Heh, so happy I now know what OK stands for

  7. Hmm interesting stuff. It's amazing how fast technology is progressing

  8. AnonymousMay 05, 2011

    MIT is going to save humanity.
    And as far as i know OK comes from a controlleur on in the Ford Factories, where a guy called Otto Kruger marked the cars with his initials if they were "OK" ;)

  9. we need more solar energy NOW!

  10. Green energy is the future! Countries should start developing it more before oil prices get even higher.

  11. This will definitely be a huge save of energy in the future. Good stuff, great post.


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