users might be able to ditch their chargers at some point in time, and maybe even sooner than later. No, it’s not because of some sort of super-human power as seen in the 2019 movie Shazam! Alternatively, this is due to a ground-breaking method of using power to boost batteries. Imagine being able to power your by leaving it in the sun. Well, a working model is in existence, so the concept isn’t too far off.  

Researchers have developed a functional model at Belgium’s and South Africa’s . Their model uses glass that is able to shift non-discernible light to a . How does it work? A pane is able to let light through using phosphor materials in glass, while transmitting infrared and ultraviolet rays to small solar panels which are mounted on the sides.  

Smartphones Powered by the Sun 

Senior professor at the University of the Free State’s physics department, , mentioned how this technology could be implanted in cell phone screens, allowing the sun to power the device but not impact appearance.  

Solar and Small Gadgets – How it Would Work 

If all goes according to plan, the solar panel technology could lessen the issue of solar power’s potential ineffectiveness by making panels more omnipresent. You likely have seen solar panels or solar arrays before – you will characteristically notice them in the form of a square or rectangle which is able to capture sunlight. Perhaps you have seen solar panels in a field or on a rooftop. But picture this – solar panels on windows of buildings rather than on the rooftop. This is a similar concept to the type of solar that would be placed on electronic devices such as smartphones. Currently, see-through solar is not able to collect solar power unless it uses something like an intricate phone case, for example.  

Transparent solar panels would make a big difference, allowing us to use self-charging smartphones, if you will.  

This technology isn’t just something that could benefit smartphones, either. It could even be used for electric vehicles. If you have seen or heard of Sono and Toyota solar cars, the idea is similar, as it would shift light from windows to panels. Perhaps plastics could even be used so zinc roofs could be replaced.  

With the aforementioned technology, less solar panels would be needed which would lead to a drop in cost. This is because light would be concentrated from a big area to one that is smaller on the sides (where the solar panels are), in accordance with , who is currently working on the research with Swart.  

This might not be something we see for another decade, but it is still worth thinking about. In the meantime, similar ideas have come to light. For instance, at the University College London, researchers discussed a luminescent solar concentrator and issues such as how to make panels clear and ensure they are safe to use.  

 is a Maryland-based company founded in the late 1990’s that utilizes thin wires to transport power. Apparently, its solar-generating windows could generate 50 times the amount of power and offer much more in terms of environmental benefits than, say, solar panels on the roof of a comparable building.  

Concealing solar panels is something other companies are trying to do, such as Tesla. Their solar roof tile looks just like a typical roof and allows people to avoid thick panels traditionally on solar-powered homes. Origami solar blinds are another popular creation, thanks to the innovative mind of , an Australian architect. These blinds are able to collect and bounce light into a room.  

See-Through Solar Panels 

A solar panel that is see-through such as what Erasmus described would present the opportunity to place solar panels in devices and gadgets such as smartphones. It was rumored back in 2014 that Apple was looking into ways to incorporate solar panels in their Apple Watch. Recently, reports surfaced that mentioned Apple is looking into a charging solution for iPhones. To put it simply, if gadgets we use daily such as the iPhone could benefit from solar, they would in turn help with battery concerns and become more environmentally-friendly. 

Keep following solar news and stay in the know about how the technology you use on a daily basis could be impacted!  

Sources: 

https://www.inverse.com/article/57825-see-through-solar-panels-could-one-day-cover-smartphone-and-electric-cars 

https://www.itweb.co.za/content/xnklOvzbmzpv4Ymz 

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