What if all of your windows and even your phone could generate electricity but keep the same design at the same time? It is not science fiction anymore. Researchers in Michigan worked on a fully transparent solar cell that could make every window and screen a power source.
This technology has already been used in the past few years, but until now the solar cells were never completely transparent. Indeed solar cells, specifically the photovoltaic kind, make energy by absorbing photons (sunlight) and converting them into electrons (electricity). If a material is transparent, however, by definition it means that all of the light passes through the medium to strike the back of your eye. This is why previous transparent solar cells have actually only been partially transparent. So rather than trying to create a transparent photovoltaic cell, which is impossible, the Michigan State researchers used a transparent luminescent solar concentrator (TLSC) instead, which absorbs ultraviolet and infrared light and concentrates it towards the outside edges of the panel where standard photovoltaic cells are positioned which then converts the energy into electricity. All normal visible light is allowed to pass through, making it completely transparent and no different in appearance to a normal pane of glass.
This technology is unfortunately not very powerful, since it has an efficiency of around 1%. So if your phone screen could generate electricity it would allow you to win a few minutes, maybe a few hours of battery more, but your phone will never run indefinitely. However, if the technology was used on a large scale throughout the entire world, especially in major cities where there are a large number of windows and vertical surface area on buildings (as opposed to the limited roof space), solar energy could become the primary source of power, which would be better for our planet, and for our electricity bills!
Watch more here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qMhdpWMDp04
Read more about it here: http://www.offgridquest.com/extra/a-fully-transparent-solar-cell-that-coul