New Process in Quantum Dot Nanotech Could Turn Windows Into Solar Panels

Advances in renewable energy seem to be coming at a rather quick pace these days, especially in comparison to even just five to ten years ago. One such advancement could be the introduction of quantum dot films that you can apply to existing windows to generate solar power. The process essentially captures and then redirects the light that hits a window allowing it to be captured by a single solar cell at the edge of the window (or several), but with the need for fewer solar cells over the surface area. This is another advance in nanotechnology that we are starting to see more of an impact in a wide variety of applications. The process is also relatively inexpensive, which could make it an attractive option for those with enough glass surface area to make use of this coming technology.

For now, they are short of the 6% efficiency needed to make it a viable consumer product, but they are approaching that number rather quickly. While this may not have any immediate or obvious uses for off grid living, we could see new design concepts using these principles which can be utilized by more and more people, especially those who strive to live a self sustaining lifestyle. Expect initial applications to be aimed at urban areas where large buildings with large windows are prominent and the affordable application of a simple window film could drive down energy costs for many buildings. The first to benefit in the off-grid community will likely be the urban homesteaders, but it could also help open the door for others to consider going off-grid, at least partially, who never would have had that option without relocating.

While there had been attempts to utilize this method before, it is the recent study done at Los Alamos that has brought the tech back into the news. By retooling and looking at new approaches, they may have found a way to essentially turn windows into solar panels in their own right. There will be more retooling before a product hits the market, but this is a promising method to bring this technology to bear.