Spray On Solar Glass A Coming Reality

There have been plenty of shouts and rumors about see-through solar glass, but until now the technology had not reached the point where anyone was ready to begin commercial development. That appears to have changed, as New Energy Technologies, Inc., of Maryland, recently announced that researchers working on its proprietary SolarWindow technology have achieved a series of breakthroughs that will allow the company to unveil a working prototype of the world’s first-ever glass window capable of generating electricity. The University of South Florida Research Foundation has granted New Energy an exclusive, worldwide license for technologies to enable commercial development of the product.

Until now, the limiting factors appear to have been the need for metals and various expensive processes that block visibility and prevent light from passing through glass surfaces. New Energy see-through solar glass is made possible by the world’s smallest working organic solar cells, a nanotechnology application developed by Dr. Xiaomei Jiang at the University of South Florida. Unlike conventional solar energy systems, New Energy’s solar cells are capable of generating electricity from both natural and artificial light sources; according to the company, they outperform today’s commercial solar and thin-film technologies by as much as 10-fold.

Solar Window

image via New Energy Technologies

Technical hurdles surpassed in recent months by New Energy’s researchers include testing of these nanotech solar cells, measuring less than ¼ the size of a grain of rice, which generate electricity from both natural and artificial light sources; development of a patent-pending process to spray SolarWindow coatings onto see-through glass using commercially available technologies; and the ability to spray SolarWindow coatings onto glass at room temperature, eliminating expensive high-temperature or high-vacuum production methods commonly used by current solar manufacturers.

“We’re always keen to see innovations in our laboratories turn into meaningful commercial products,” stated Valerie McDevitt, Assistant Vice President for Research, Division of Patents and Licensing, University of South Florida, in a statement. “We very much look forward to the commercial development of New Energy’s SolarWindow technology, which, if successful, could literally transform the way in which we view the use of solar energy for our homes, offices, and commercial buildings.”

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Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.

1 Comment

  • Reply January 31, 2011

    Mark Mage

    Not so fast with all that praise: sounds good prima facie — but upon further scrutiny it turns out that any safety aspects have not properly been takein into consideration. The “coating” or “film” seems to be nanotech-based and it’s health hazards (abrasion, inhalation of particles, food-chain contamination etc) are TOTALLY unknown today.

    “Green” means ecologic: and ECOLOGY is the knowledge of the whole thing/world which, in my opinion should include humans and all other forms of life — don’t you think. So how “ecologic” would it be to risk further damage to these just to save a few bucks per Watt installed? There are equally promising and BETTER ways of harnessing high-tech solar power! Should we have greed take over Green energy jst like everything else on this old planet? There’s no such thing as a free lunch, not even with solar power…

    Take your time — not your life.

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