Many other invention-intuitive people have thought of that, but New Energy Technologies Inc developed an organic solar array that is both transparent and produces electricity. They made use of conductive polymers, a thousand times thinner than human hair, assembled them together, and – voili ! Here’s a working solar cell less then 1/4 the size of a grain of rice, producing electricity just like its big silicon brother, only cheaper.
Silicon solar cells are expensive at the moment. They break off easily, and they’re not very flexible, making a pretty bad choice for applications where they would provide the most help – mobile electricity production.
NET’s ultra-small organic solar cells are made on a polymer substrate, while standard silicon solar cells are made on stainless steel – you can see the difference. These transparent cells are suited for all kinds of lighting, including the office fluorescent one (possibly recovering some of the energy).
Even more than its flexible and transparent nature, the SolarWindow cells are made of natural polymers, being able to be dissolved into liquid for an easy application. They don’t require high temperature or high vacuum production techniques, like classic silicon solar cells do.
It’s nice to hear windows will be producing electricity – on the other (funny) hand, you’ll see more and more clean windows in the future. I can hardly wait for this invention to become mainstream technology… in a few years, maybe.