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November 9, 2015

A 'clear path' to solar power

Engineers are designing new transparent solar panels that could be retrofit to existing glass-covered buildings. Solar cells integrated into new construction, particularly skyscrapers, are an enticing energy option. However, this effort can be hampered by the cost and architectural considerations sometimes needed to mount traditional photovoltaic (PV) cells. What if engineers could make it easier with a lightweight, clear and flexible solar cell? Traditional solar panels, such as silicon, soak up much of the sun's light, including visible light, and convert it to energy. A transparent panel allows visible light to shine through, by making the light we can't see with our eyes--such as ultraviolet and infrared--do the work.

Credit: National Science Foundation

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