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“Invisible” wires to power US solar window

Conductive wiring system for transporting electricity leads see-through glass solar system one step closer to commercialisation

The wires will transport electricity on the glass surfaces of SolarWindow
The “invisible” wires will transport electricity on the glass surfaces of SolarWindow technology, transforming windows into solar energy systems

US scientists have developed an “invisible” wire system to transport electricity on a see-through glass solar device. New Energy Technologies, a US developer of innovative technologies for generating sustainable electricity, has worked with National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) scientists to collaboratively develop a virtually 'invisible' conductive wiring system for its SolarWindow technology.

The SolarWindow is see-through glass solar system that aims to allow windows to be used to generate energy from the sun. Currently under ongoing development, the conductive wire system's ultra-fine grid-like pattern is deposited on to SolarWindow and is rendered virtually invisible when viewing objects through New Energy's electricity-generating glass. Researchers anticipate that a fully functional system could help transport the electricity generated on glass surfaces, improving power, efficiency, and overall performance of SolarWindow technology.

The ability to transport electricity on glass windows while remaining see-through is especially important to the eventual deployment of an aesthetically pleasing commercial product.
John A. Conklin, president and CEO of New Energy Technologies, said: “It's very exciting that we've not only achieved an important milestone with respect to the size of our SolarWindow, but we are now able to confidently tackle two of the most important factors to eventual commercialisation - the structure and transparency of the wiring system which transports the electricity generated on see-through glass, and overall performance.”

The prospect of generating electricity on SolarWindow is made possible when researchers creatively layer and arrange unique, ultra-small see-through solar cells on to glass. Each of these cells are arranged in a network and interconnected by way of the ‘invisible’ grid-like wiring system. Until now, such systems used in early SolarWindow prototypes were relatively thick and bulky, and applied to glass in ways that obstructed light, prevented the absorbance of light energy necessary to produce electricity, and significantly reduced transparency.

The development of the wire system follows last month's major breakthrough when NREL scientists collaboratively developing New Energy's SolarWindow technology successfully fabricated the largest-area organic photovoltaic (OPV) module produced at the US Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). Scientists developing New Energy's SolarWindow technology fabricated a large area working module, more than 14-times larger than previous OPV devices fabricated at NREL.