16 April 2014 — Windows that generate solar power could be a step closer to reality, thanks to research on quantum dots.
Researchers from Italy and the US found that the superior light-emitting properties of quantum dots – ultra-small bits of semiconductor matter – could be applied to solar energy production by helping more efficiently harvest sunlight.
A luminescent solar concentrator, a slab of transparent material containing quantum dots, would absorb sunlight and guide it towards a solar cell at the edge of the material.
“The LSC serves as a light-harvesting antenna which concentrates solar radiation collected from a large area onto a much smaller solar cell, and this increases its power output,” said lead researcher Victor Klimov of the Center for Advanced Solar Photophysics at Los Alamos National Laboratory in the US.
LSCs are attractive because in addition to efficiency gains, they enable concepts such as photovoltaic windows, which could transform house facades into large-area energy generation units, said researcher Sergio Brovelli.