Dyed Glass Taps Solar Power

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What if your windows could pull double-duty as solar panels by harvesting some of the energy in sunshine? That's the idea behind the organic solar concentrator, a new kind of solar powering device. Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology coated thin glass plates with organic dyes that absorb certain colors of light while letting others pass through. The dyes redirect the solar energy by absorbing and then reemitting the light toward the window's edges, where regular (opaque) solar cells convert it into electricity. Unlike mirror-based solar concentrators, the new system, described in Science, does not have to be cooled. The researchers say they still need to improve the system's durability and efficiency—estimated at 6.8 percent—before they can think about bringing it to market.

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