New Quantum-Dot Solar Windows Could Power a Building

Quantum-Dot Solar Windows by Los Alamos National Laboratory
IMAGE: Los Alamos National Laboratory

Lots of revolutionary technologies has emerged in recent years. New technologies like solar glass and flexible organic solar panel technology for decorating have already drawn masses of attention. Recently, new developments have been made in the solar window technology, by a research team in the Los Alamos National Laboratory. Through many tests, this team proved that its quantum-dot solar windows are able to be scaled up from palm-sized models to window-sized products to be systematically assembled and then power a building.

“We are developing solar concentrators that will harvest sunlight from building windows and turn it into electricity, using quantum-dot based luminescent solar concentrators,” said Victor Klimov, the scientist who leads the Los Alamos Center for Advanced Solar Photophysics.

These luminescent solar concentrators are the key components of the solar window technology. As light-management devices, these concentrators utilize colloidal quantum dots to collect sunlight, mainly because these colloidal substances have the advantage of high lightfastness and can withstand high-intensity stimulation from sunlight. In addition, the fluorophores, main parts of the concentrators, also play a key role in collecting sunlight. When sunlight is collected into the luminescent solar concentrators, the fluorophores inside will absorb the photons and re-emit them. Then, through the process of total internal reflection, the photons are directed to the photovoltaic cells and enter into the collection and transformation processes.

When manufacturing these solar windows, scientists will adopt the traditional doctor-blade technique, generally used for printing. To be specific, with the help of special blades, this team will deposit thin layers of a dot/polymer composite on top of large-area glass slabs, enabling the glass/windows to gain the ability of power generation. “The quantum dots used in LSC devices have been specially designed for the optimal performance as LSC fluorophores and to exhibit good compatibility with the polymer material that holds them on the surface of the window,” Klimov noted.

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Compared to the traditional solar modules, this type of solar window will not consume too much expensive materials for power generation. This team hopes to reduce the cost of solar power generation with the help of these solar windows. Since this type of solar system is both a window and a power generation system, so the team also expressed that this new technology will be more practical for those cities lack of sufficient space to set up traditional solar panels.

Want to know more about quantum dots? This may help

In this video, MIT Chemistry Professor Moungi Bawendi will explore the potential advantages of quantum dots in solar energy applications. comment