The idea of transparent solar cells is nothing new and researchers have long tried to build similar technologies to allow everything from the window of your home to the windscreen of your car to produce renewable solar energy. However, the concern is that these “transparent” solar cells are actually translucent and hence cannot be used to power portable mobile devices such as tablet computers. A Cambridge-based startup, Ubiquitous Energy, says that it might finally be possible to coat tablet computers with an entirely transparent coating that doesn’t make the display look dull.
The secret behind the technology that the company is developing is the type of light it will be designed to harvest. While most solar cells are designed to convert the visible spectrum of light while letting the ultraviolet and infrared rays simply pass through, the new coating does just the opposite. It allows visible light to pass through, while converting ultraviolet and infrared light into usable electricity.
Don’t just start throwing away those wall chargers at present, as the company is still in research and development stage and currently the new technology is converting just 2 percent of light into electricity while providing 70 percent transparency. The developer are planning to better the credentials and take the efficiency to over 10 percent, at which point it might become possible for you to just paste a coating, similar to a screen protector, on your iPad and forget everything about a wall charger.