Amazing New Solar Panels Are Completely Transparent

Just so we’re totally clear, this is a huge deal. (Get it?)

1. The Sun sends us enormous amounts of energy.

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You’ve seen solar panels like this before. In simplest terms, they collect the sun’s light and help convert it into usable electricity.

2. Researchers at Michigan State University have developed transparent panels that can go undetected over surfaces.

Yimu Zhao / Michigan State University / Via msutoday.msu.edu

The new study isn’t the first to delve into luminescent materials, but it is the first to yield a transparent panel with improved energy production.

Because it’s see-through, the technology can be used without you even knowing that it’s there, like on top of building windows or cellphones.

3. The team developed organic molecules that absorb wavelengths of sunlight that aren’t visible.

G.L. Kohuth / Michigan State University / Via msutoday.msu.edu

Former efforts have typically used colored glass. “It makes for a very colorful environment, like working in a disco,” researcher Richard Lunt told MSUToday. “Because the materials do not absorb or emit light in the visible spectrum, they look exceptionally transparent to the human eye.”

4. While still in its early stages, the panels could potentially be made affordable to use industrially or, better yet, commercially.

G.L. Kohuth / Michigan State University / Via msutoday.msu.edu

The problem with solar energy is that harnessing the endless stream of light is expensive. On top of the actual system, which used to cost 10 times that of fossil fuels like coal, you need special permits and inspections, according to the Energy Department.

But with prices steadily dropping, and if continually improved, you might see this technology soon (or not, since it’s transparent).

5. Read more about the development at MSUToday.

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