New startup Ubiquitous Energy is developing a host of technologies that enable seamless deployment of light-harvesting functionality. The company aims to develop affordable, transparent coatings and films that have the ability to harvest light energy when used on windows or screens of tablet devices or e-readers.
Ubiquitous Energy created photovoltaics that take up light to collect wavelengths in the ultraviolet and infrared portion of the spectrum while simultaneously allowing visible light go through.
In sharp contrast, traditional solar cells cannot be completely transparent because they collect light in ultraviolet and visible regions.
Still in the R&D phase, Ubiquitous Energy is trying to improve the efficiency of its solar cells and is exploring ways to collect more light. One solution may involve optimizing the design of semiconductor materials. Molecular dyes are in current materials, and these have selective absorption peaks in the ultraviolet and near-infrared parts of the spectrum. Another solution may involve nanoscale engineering and tweaking optical interference within the device to improve light absorption.
President and CTO of Ubiquitous Energy, Miles Barr, says the technology isn’t that different than the coating used on modern windows for insulation or solar control. In this case, the organically layered solar cells are deposited individually on top of a glass or film. This would allow for easy integration into the industrial processing arena and may one day cover everything from tablets to skyscrapers.