Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > Solar cell turns windows into generators

Abstract:
Imagine a world where the windows of high-rise office buildings are powerful energy producers, offering its inhabitants much more than some fresh air, light and a view.

For the past four years a team of researchers from Flinders University has been working to make this dream a reality - and now the notion of solar-powered windows could be coming to a not too distant future near you.

Solar cell turns windows into generators

Adelaide, Australia | Posted on March 20th, 2012

As part of his just-completed PhD, Dr Mark Bissett (pictured) from the School of Chemical and Physical Sciences has developed a revolutionary solar cell using carbon nanotubes.

A promising alternative to traditional silicon-based solar cells, carbon nanotubes are cheaper to make and more efficient to use than their energy-sapping, silicon counterparts.

"Solar power is actually the most expensive type of renewable energy - in fact the silicon solar cells we see on peoples' roofs are very expensive to produce and they also use a lot of electricity to purify," Dr Bissett said.

"The overall efficiency of silicon solar cells are about 10 per cent and even when they're operating at optimal efficiency it could take eight to 15 years to make back the energy that it took to produce them in the first place because they're produced using fossil fuels," he said.

Dr Bissett said the new, low-cost carbon nanotubes are transparent, meaning they can be "sprayed" onto windows without blocking light, and they are also flexible so they can be weaved into a range of materials including fabric - a concept that is already being explored by advertising companies.

While the amount of power generated by solar windows would not be enough to completely offset the energy consumption of a standard office building, Dr Bissett said they still had many financial and environmental advantages.

"In a new building, or one where the windows are being replaced anyway, adding transparent solar cells to the glass would be a relatively small cost since the cost of the glass, frames and installation would be the same with or without the solar component," Dr Bissett said.

"It's basically like tinting the windows except they're able to produce electricity, and considering office buildings don't have a lot of roof space for solar panels it makes sense to utilise the many windows they do have instead."

Dr Bissett said the technology mimics photosynthesis, the process whereby plants obtain energy from the sun.

"A solar cell is created by taking two sheets of electrically conductive glass and sandwiching a layer of functionalised single-walled carbon nanotubes between the glass sheets," he said.

"When light shines on the cell, electrons are generated within the carbon nanotubes and these can be used to power electrical devices."

Although small prototypes have been developed in the lab, he said the next step would be to test the carbon cells on an "industrial stage".

If all goes to plan, the material could be on the market within 10 years.

"When we first started the research we had no idea if it would work because we were the first in the world to try it so it's pretty exciting that we've proved the concept, and hopefully it will be commercially available in a few year's time," Dr Bissett said.

Dr Bissett is a winner of Flinders inaugural Best Student Paper Award, a now annual program which aims to recognise excellence in student research across the University.

####

For more information, please click here

Copyright © Flinders University

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

Northwestern researchers achieve unprecedented control of polymer grids: Materials could find applications in water purification, solar energy storage, body armor June 22nd, 2018

Nanobiotix Publishes Positive Phase 2/3 Data For Nanomedicine in Soft Tissue Cancer (Webcast June 22) June 22nd, 2018

Alzheimer's breakthrough: Brain metals that may drive disease progression revealed: In brains affected by Alzheimer's, researchers identify chemically reduced iron species, with mineral forms including a magnetic iron oxide June 22nd, 2018

Collaboration yields discovery of 12-sided silica cages June 20th, 2018

Nanotubes/Buckyballs/Fullerenes/Nanorods

Nano-saturn: Supramolecular complex formation: Anthracene macrocycle and C60 fullerene June 8th, 2018

Unzipping graphene nanotubes into nanoribbons: New study shows elegant mathematical solution to understand how the flow of electrons changes when carbon nanotubes turn into zigzag nanoribbons June 6th, 2018

Making carbon nanotubes as usable as common plastics: Researchers discover that cresols disperse carbon nanotubes at unprecedentedly high concentrations May 15th, 2018

'Exceptional' research points way toward quantum discoveries: Rice University scientists make tunable light-matter couplings in nanotube films April 30th, 2018

Discoveries

Alzheimer's breakthrough: Brain metals that may drive disease progression revealed: In brains affected by Alzheimer's, researchers identify chemically reduced iron species, with mineral forms including a magnetic iron oxide June 22nd, 2018

Collaboration yields discovery of 12-sided silica cages June 20th, 2018

Carbon nanotube optics poised to provide pathway to optical-based quantum cryptography and quantum computing: Researchers are exploring enhanced potential of carbon nanotubes for unique applications June 18th, 2018

Camouflaged nanoparticles used to deliver killer protein to cancer June 17th, 2018

Announcements

Northwestern researchers achieve unprecedented control of polymer grids: Materials could find applications in water purification, solar energy storage, body armor June 22nd, 2018

Nanobiotix Publishes Positive Phase 2/3 Data For Nanomedicine in Soft Tissue Cancer (Webcast June 22) June 22nd, 2018

Alzheimer's breakthrough: Brain metals that may drive disease progression revealed: In brains affected by Alzheimer's, researchers identify chemically reduced iron species, with mineral forms including a magnetic iron oxide June 22nd, 2018

Collaboration yields discovery of 12-sided silica cages June 20th, 2018

Energy

Northwestern researchers achieve unprecedented control of polymer grids: Materials could find applications in water purification, solar energy storage, body armor June 22nd, 2018

Physicists devise method to reveal how light affects materials: The new method adds to the understanding of the fundamental laws governing the interaction of electrons and light June 15th, 2018

Tripling the Energy Storage of Lithium-Ion Batteries: Scientists have synthesized a new cathode material from iron fluoride that surpasses the capacity limits of traditional lithium-ion batteries June 14th, 2018

Remote control of transport through nanopores: New study outlines key factors affecting the transfer of molecules through biological channels May 24th, 2018

Home

Research gives new ray of hope for solar fuel April 27th, 2018

This Wired Wallpaper Could Turn Your Whole House Into A Fire Alarm April 2nd, 2018

A new product to help combat mouldy walls, thanks to technology developed at the ICN2 December 14th, 2017

Rice lab expands palette for color-changing glass: Nanophotonics team creates low-voltage, multicolor, electrochromic glass March 8th, 2017

Solar/Photovoltaic

Northwestern researchers achieve unprecedented control of polymer grids: Materials could find applications in water purification, solar energy storage, body armor June 22nd, 2018

Team achieves two-electron chemical reactions using light energy, gold May 15th, 2018

Hematene joins parade of new 2D materials: Rice University-led team extracts 3-atom-thick sheets from common iron oxide May 8th, 2018

Harvesting clean hydrogen fuel through artificial photosynthesis May 3rd, 2018

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE



  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project