Researchers from the University of Warwick have designed a new, thing, and double-glazed solar power device – essentially a window that has a transparent outer pane and conducts electricity. Developed by Dr Yorck Ramachers and Dr Gavin Bell from the university, the unique approach to garnering solar power could open up many new opportunities for the development of more advanced solar power devices.
The new device is unlike other solar panels present in the market and transports electricity with the use of gas instead of vacuum. The new device is coated with a distinctive material, which when illuminated by sunlight, acts as a source of electrons – the photocathode of the device. The inner and outer panes of the window are separated with the help of a harmless inert gas such as argon, as is the case with numerous high quality double-glazed windows.
When the device is illuminated with sunlight, electrons are released from the photocathode, which then travel to the outer pane of the window without any loss. This is completely different from the way electrons act in solar panels that are available in the market presently. The electrons that are collected lead to the generation of electrical energy, which is then provided to the grid. Using a gas-filled gap instead of vacuum could be a much more economical measure for the purpose.
The material that can best suit the photosensitive layer in the device needs to be still identified and researchers are proposing a variety of candidates for the same, such as thin films of diamond, which could be very long-lasting and robust. The photocathode can be manufactured in varied levels of transparency, which could also lead to the possible development of tinted windows that are capable of generating solar power.