Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be sitting outside in the pub chatting with friends, your mobile phone out on the table effortlessly charging from the sun? The goal of a start-up called Ubiquitous Energy hopes to be putting solar capture capabilities into every devices. Developing transparent coatings and films that can be applied to the myriad of electronic devices that we utilize every day. Coatings that are transparent could be applied to just about every device offering affordable and smart ways of generating power without needing to use the typical silicon PV’s devices that are abundant today. One way to use the technology might be in cheap and simple electro-chromic windows that turn from clear to dark when the sun is brightest. But perhaps the most excitement is around adding the material to screens of tablets and e-readers without interfering with the interaction of the device.
How the cell’s are transparent
Ubiquitous Energy‘s Photovoltaic innovation differs from conventional PV panels by collecting light with a differing wavelength – i.e. letting visible spectrum though, but collecting and harvesting wavelengths in ultraviolet and infrared spectrum. Conventional PV devices harvest light in the visible spectrum spectrum and therefore are not transparent.
Transparent solar cells are comprised of organic layers, deposited one at a time on top of a glass or film and hence the process could easily be integrated into thin-film deposition systems found in typical industrial processing.
The future is clear
If UE can pull this off, the materials could be added to just about any product. Key will be the ability to manufacture cheaply and easily and add to the current technological innovations which are typically layered devices such as a touch screen and LCD’s combined and this will effectively add a third layer.
Additionally these cells collect infrared and ultraviolet light, the technology is filtering the parts of the spectrum people generally want windows to keep out anyway i.e. the nasty parts of the spectrum which can cause cancer and burn you.