One day, the Pink Floyd Laser Show may run on solar energy collected by windows.
Every time I look out the lone window of my blogging compound to see if the delivery guy has shown up, I think about all the energy being wasted lighting the tiny corner of my bunker that I allow the sun to reach. I could easily replace that window with a solar panel, but then how would I know when my pizza gets here? Well, I have some good news. Researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory and the University of Milano-Bicocca have made a breakthrough that could lead to solar-panel windows, thanks to quantum dots.
Quantum dots are semiconductors made from nanocrystals, and they’re responsible for improving cameraphones and doing some nifty tricks with printers. Quantum dots are already in most of our solar panels, because they’re surprisingly cheap to make. Now, scientists at the Center for Advanced Solar Photophysics (CASP) at Los Alamos have developed quantum dots that can be embedded in a clear polymer to harness the sun’s energy. “The key accomplishment is the demonstration of large-area luminescent solar concentrators (LSCs) that use a new generation of specially engineered quantum dots, ” said lead researcher Victor Klimov. “The LSC serves as a light-harvesting antenna which concentrates solar radiation collected from a large area onto a much smaller solar cell, and this increases its power output.”
Quantum dots in the solar-panel window catch sunlight and transport it to solar cells at the edge.
Sergio Brovelli, a University of Milano-Bicocca researcher, said, “LSCs are especially attractive because in addition to gains in efficiency, they can enable new interesting concepts, such as photovoltaic windows that can transform house facades into large-area energy generation units.” The study was published in Nature Photonics and contains a lot of very interesting big words that I totally understood. Solar-panel windows, when perfected, are going to be a much prettier way to save money and the environment. Well, unless you spent your life savings tearing out all your windows, and putting bricks up in their place like I did. But people like us have more important things to worry about, like all these lousy dust mites living in our follicles and mooching off us us. GET A JOB, DUST MITES!