Tired of being tethered to the outlet or waiting for your solar charger? With all the neat things our mobile devices can do, waiting around to refill the battery seems, well, archaic. A young startup called Ubiquitous Energy aims to eliminate this problem by pioneering completely transparent solar cells that could be added in layers on top of the screen of your iPad to harvest ambient light.
Headed by Miles C. Barr, the company made waves last year when he unveiled an approach to the fabrication of solar cells that could allow them to be printed directly on common materials like paper and textiles. While not the first to develop clear solar cells, many believe Barr’s newest idea could be a game changer for passive energy.
Traditional solar cells collect light in the ultraviolet and visible regions. This prevents them from being made completely transparent and limits application. Ubiquitous Energy overcame this problem by tweaking the way its photovoltaics collect light: they gather wavelengths in the ultraviolet and infrared portion of the spectrum but let visible light pass through.
Ubiquitous Energy’s solar cells are made of various organic layers, deposited one at a time on top of a glass or film. “This process could easily be integrated into thin-film deposition systems found in industrial processing,” reports the MIT Technology Review. “Many modern windows, for instance, have some sort of coating for solar control or insulation; Barr envisions his company’s solar cells being manufactured and added similarly.”
Unfortunately, the company hasn’t yet announced plans for products or pricing.