The researchers at Los Alamos have designed a double-pane solar window that generates electricity with great efficiency. The Los Alamos National Laboratory’s mission, according to its website is to “solve national security challenges through scientific excellence,” and with this project, they certainly had a breakthrough.  

When this project began the Department of Energy was behind the laboratory project, even writing an article on their official website. From the Department of Energy, “If windows can generate electricity for use on site, the consumer would gain the advantages of free, non-polluting power and at least partial grid independence.” This was the goal of the research since the beginning, and two years later it finally became a reality.  

Here’s how it works:  

The double-pane window was made possible due to a new window architecture that utilizes two different layers of low-cost quantum dots. The dots are tuned to absorb different parts of the solar spectrum. The technology adds high-efficiency sunlight collectors to existing solar panels and also integrates them as semitransparent windows into the architecture of a building. 

Image from Los Alamos National Laboratory

After the window is attached and activated the manganese ions emit light at energies below the quantum-dot absorption onset. The quantum dots allow for the complete elimination of losses due to the self-absorption built in. The dots emit a photon at a longer wavelength, following this the emitted light is guided by total internal reflection to the glasses edges of the window. The window frame then collects the light and converts it to electricity.  

According to Victor Klimov, the lead researcher on the project said, “The approach complements existing photovoltaic technology by adding high-efficiency sunlight collectors to existing solar panels or integrating them as semitransparent windows into a building’s architecture.” 

“Because of the the strong performance we can achieve with low-cost, solution-processable materials, these quantum-dot-based double-pane windows and even more complex luminescent solar concentrators offer a new way to bring down the cost of solar electricity,” Klimov also said.  

The Significance:  

The significance of this is that it’s another new technology that can help bring down the cost of solar electricity. If every window in a new house had the quantum dot windows built in, then that house would save, and create its own electricity through solar. The best part of this breakthrough is that the goal along was to bring down the cost, and it was a success.  

Thanks to Powur and other companies the roofs of houses are turning into places where energy can be created and stored, which in return can help homeowners make a return on their investment into a house. Now, imagine if each window did the same? This is the next step, and the next step may be the entire outside of the house being solar powered in some fashion, which in return would mean every house creates its own energy.  

The solar revolution has touched everything from cars to the road, and even windows. Companies and governments are racing to see who can tap into untouched markets in the solar industry, because of the vastness and unlimited growth as people look towards clean and renewable energy.  

What the researcher at Los Alamos did is no small feat, and it’s surprising that it hasn’t received more attention.  

What do you think of this new technology?   

 Sources:  

http://www.solardaily.com/reports/Tweaking_quantum_dots_powers_up_double_pane_solar_windows_999.html 

https://www.energy.gov/articles/turning-windows-solar-panels 

http://lanl.gov/ 

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