Solar energy from tinted windows!

Posted by mjs76 at Aug 11, 2010 04:10 PM |
Leicester nanoscientists develop transparent film which could replace PV panels.

Small-scale solar energy generation is the coming thing. Financially beneficial Government schemes have seen more photovoltaic panels installed on buildings across the UK in the first four months of 2010 than in the whole of 2009.

But in a few years’ time, a completely revolutionary type of solar power generator could be on the market, developed right here at the University of Leicester. Scientists from our Department of Physics and Astronomy have been working with Norwegian company EnSol AS to develop a thin, transparent, photovoltaic film which can be applied to large surface areas including windows.

The patented, innovative system is based on microscopic metallic nanoparticles, with diameters of approximately ten nanometres, which are are embedded in a transparent composite matrix. It can be painted or even sprayed onto any flat surfaces such as roof or windows. While it slightly reduces the transparency of glass, let’s face it, in sunny regions windows are often tinted anyway.

The film also has transport potential since it is so thin that it could be painted onto aircraft wings without significantly affecting the vehicle’s weight.

Experts from the University and EnSol are meeting this week to discuss plans for the technology which could be commercially available by 2016.

Professor Chris Binns from our Condensed Matter Physics Group is leading the project from this end. He is also the author of a recently published book, Introduction to Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, and is Chair of the Nanoscience Beamline at the Diamond Light Source synchrotron.

nanofilm2.jpgThe University of Leicester has a vast amount of experience in producing and studying metallic nanoparticles using highly specialised equipment which has now been adapted to produce prototype versions of the solar film. This is what the inside of the equipment looks like...

You can watch a three-minute video with Professor Binns via streaming video or on YouTube. And if nanoscience is your bag, why not consider studying at Leicester for a BSc or MPhys in Physics with Nanotechnology?