The luminescent solar concentrator device called (LSC) can be used on buildings, mobile phones and all other electronic devices with a transparent surface. And, as assistant professor of chemistry and materials science, Richard Lunt, put it the key word is “transparency.”
Research in energy production from organic luminescent solar cells (plastic material) is not new. Existing efforts in this area have often performed poorly – energy production was quite low while the materials used had strong staining.
“Nobody wants to sit behind colored glass,” said Richard Lunt. “This sends a very colorful work environment, as in a nightclub. We adopt an approach where the active luminescent layer is made transparent.”
The recovery system of the solar energy developed by Professor Lunt’s team and small organic molecules that absorb specific wavelengths of visible sunlight. “We can fix the material to capture only the ultraviolet wavelengths near infrared”, he said.
Infrared light is first directed to the edge of the plastic, where it will be converted into electricity using thin strips of photovoltaic solar cells.
“Because the material does not absorb or emit light in the visible spectrum, they become exceptionally transparent to the human eye,” said Richard Lunt.
One advantage of this new development is its flexibility. Although this technology is still in its infancy, it has the potential to invade industrial or commercial applications at an affordable cost.
“It will open a lot of opportunities to deploy solar energy non-intrusively (…) It can be used on large buildings with many windows or any other type of mobile devices that require impeccable aesthetic quality as a smartphone or tablet. Ultimately, we want to make sensitive surfaces in the recovery of solar energy without you knowing.”
There is still a lot of effort to improve the efficiency of energy production.
Currently, the device is able to produce a solar conversion efficiency of about 1% (only). However, the researchers designed an efficiency in excess of 5% when fully optimized.
To date, the best colored LSC has an efficiency of about 7%.