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Invisible Solar

Professor Richard Lunt

Invisible Solar

Solar energy that doesn't disrupt the view.

Those bulky rooftop solar panels many households hide on the back sides of their homes are not the only option. That is thanks to Richard Lunt, the Johansen Crosby Endowed Professor of Chemical Engineering at MSU, and other engineering researchers. Lunt and colleagues at MSU pioneered the development of transparent luminescent solar concentrators in 2014. The panels, which were plastic-like and looked like thick glass squares, could be placed on windows—thus creating solar energy without disrupting a view.

“Highly transparent solar cells represent the wave of the future for new solar applications,” Lunt told MSUToday in 2017. “We analyzed their potential and showed that, by harvesting only invisible light, these devices can provide a similar electricity-generation potential as rooftop solar, while providing additional functionality to enhance the efficiency of buildings, automobiles and mobile electronics.”

Lunt was awarded with the Best Innovation at the 2015 Innovation Celebration, and is still working on expanding the application of the technology. Now Lunt’s innovations will make it possible to apply the technology anywhere there’s glass. That means his invention could potentially be placed on anything—from small electronic devices such as cellphones or on massive skyscrapers.

“Traditional solar applications have been actively researched for over five decades,” Lunt said. “Ultimately, this technology offers a promising route to inexpensive, widespread solar adoption on small and large surfaces that were Professor Richard Lunt previously inaccessible.”

Author: Liam Boylan-Pett

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