Editorial Feature

Glitter, Glass, and Other Solar Panels of the Future

Image Credit: Photos.com

In the future, people could generate power by wearing the right fashions. A solar glitter developed by Sandia National Laboratories researcher Greg Nielson may be able to turn any fabric—or other surface—into a viable solar panel. Nielson isn't the first person to get fashionable with solar power. A company called Pvillion makes fabric with solar-power capabilities for use in commercial applications

Glitter isn't the only thing being transformed into a solar generator. Companies like Oxford Photovoltaics are working to develop transparent glass solar panels, which would allow windows to become power generators. The process works by incorporating minute solid-state solar cells into glass.

The solar cells are no more than three microns thick, so they won't obstruct visibility. They will, however, be able to harness around 12 percent of the solar energy that beams through the window. That may sound inefficient, but imagine the power generated by a city block of windowed skyscrapers.
 

Solar panel glass could be used in office blocks and in homes.

Solar panel glass could be used in office blocks and in homes. Image Credit: Photos.com

Next to glitter and glass, carbon sounds a bit traditional, but work out of the University of Wisconsin-Madison could revolutionize the world of solar energy. A research team at the university is developing solar cells featuring carbon nanotubes instead of silicon.

According to assistant professor Michael Arnold, the carbon nanotube can convert almost 75 percent of natural light received into usable energy. Since carbon is less expensive than silicon, the result could be more affordable solar energy in the future.
 

With developments in solar panel technology, this renewable energy could become part of everday life.

With developments in solar panel technology, this renewable energy could become part of everday life. Image Credit: Photos.com

Whether you'll be wearing your own solar generator, gazing through energy creation to view the cityscape below, or covering your home in carbon, the future of solar energy looks to be innovative and strong.

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Kris Walker

Written by

Kris Walker

Kris has a BA(hons) in Media & Performance from the University of Salford. Aside from overseeing the editorial and video teams, Kris can be found in far flung corners of the world capturing the story behind the science on behalf of our clients. Outside of work, Kris is finally seeing a return on 25 years of hurt supporting Manchester City.

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