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Transparent solar cell windows to power your house

UCLA has made a break-through in solar tech that could turn any transparent surface into a solar charger

Soon we may be able to see into the future, quite literally, as solar windows – the power source of a new era – become a reality. Thanks to newly developed transparent solar cells, compliments of UCLA, your whole home could soon become a self-sustained powerhouse.

The new polymer solar cell, as it’s described, is 70 percent transparent but still manages to harvest near-infrared light using its photoactive plastic cells. Yes, we know plastic sounds dated and cheap, but that’s the point. Thanks to the affordable components these transparent solar panels can be made in high volumes at low cost – meaning they can be adopted by everybody.

So we’re not only expecting solar windows but transparent solar powered screen layers on our mobiles, tablets, and laptops. Even our cars can use them – as was proposed by the OLED Car roof – and hopefully planes too following the recent record-breaking Solar Impulse flight on sunlight power alone.

Since this is only at university discovery stages right now don’t expect to have salesmen beating down your door quoting new solar windows anytime soon. But it’s nice to know that a green, sustainable future will be even less visually obtrusive than we could have imagined.

[Via UCLA]

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Profile image of Dan Grabham Dan Grabham Editor-in-Chief


Dan is Editor-in-chief of Stuff, working across the magazine and the Stuff.tv website.  Our Editor-in-Chief is a regular at tech shows such as CES in Las Vegas, IFA in Berlin and Mobile World Congress in Barcelona as well as at other launches and events. He has been a CES Innovation Awards judge. Dan is completely platform agnostic and very at home using and writing about Windows, macOS, Android and iOS/iPadOS plus lots and lots of gadgets including audio and smart home gear, laptops and smartphones. He's also been interviewed and quoted in a wide variety of places including The Sun, BBC World Service, BBC News Online, BBC Radio 5Live, BBC Radio 4, Sky News Radio and BBC Local Radio.

Areas of expertise

Computing, mobile, audio, smart home