#ChallengeYoPlanet is a new feature on the blog focused on raising awareness on climate change issues, promotes and shines a light on new technologies and scientific discoveries that have the potential to turn around the mess we have made on this planet. For more info, check this post on Instagram.
If you don’t get excited about solar energy, then you really don’t know anything about the amazing impact that switching to a solar-powered economy could have on our society, and most importantly, on our planet.
But like many things in our society, solar panels are not accepted because they..don’t look cute. They are big, aesthetically disturbing panels on the roof of our majestic houses.
Who cares if we have exploited, drilled and killed so many ecosystems and threatened the lives of indigenous populations and animals who are at risk of disappearing off the face of the Earth, just so we could use energy that doesn’t ruin the look of our houses. Because cute is what will matter when climate change will hit us in the butt real hard, right?
But today, we literally have no excuses, because a group of researchers from Michigan State University have come up with an astonishing invention: a solar energy generator that can be applied to a surface without blocking the view.
After many years of trying to improve the aesthetic of solar energy generators, which were way too far from being transparent and efficient in generating energy; Yium Zhao, a doctoral student in chemical engineering, and Richard Lunt, assistant professor of chemical engineering, have produced a type of solar concentrator that can be applied on any surface, such as a building, even a cellphone; and creating solar energy, without blocking the view.
HOW IT WORKS
- The transparent luminescent solar concentrator (that’s its real name FYI) uses small organic molecules developed by Lunt and his research team and they absorb non visible wavelengths of sunlight. (Are you alright sitting in that chair)
- This is where it gets a bit sci-fi and chemistry-heavy, so you better take a shot of coffee to understand this; the reason why the material is transparent is because the materials don’t absorb or eight light in the visible spectrum, therefore cannot be seen by a human eye.
“It opens a lot of area to deploy solar energy in a non-intrusive way,” Lunt said. “It can be used on tall buildings with lots of windows or any kind of mobile device that demands high aesthetic quality like a phone or e-reader. Ultimately we want to make solar harvesting surfaces that you do not even know are there.”