In the bid to make our lives more environmentally friendly in 2018, we’re willing to investigate anything that could help make a difference (not to mention save us money on utility bills along the way).
Now scientists at Berkeley Lab could have another potential home modification - this is no double glazing - after they were able to demonstrate for the first time a window that could collect green electricity just like a solar panel.
Peidong Yang, who lead the study, said: “With a device like this, a building or car can harvest solar energy through the smart window.”
Photovoltaic material is not new, but so far it has just been used to make windows that work like transition lenses - transparent when dark and cool and then automatically darken when it is bright outside. This is an increasingly popular energy saving option.
But now they are taking it one step further, by allowing the material to actively produce electricity when in that dark state.
This is made possible because photovoltaic glass is also thermochromic.
Yang said: “All it takes [to activate the window] is to slightly change the temperature or introduce a little water vapour,” to set the process in motion.
“That was very interesting to us. So you can easily manipulate it in such a way that is not readily available in existing conventional semiconductors.”
It also has high efficiency rates, and an ease of processing that have made it one of the most promising developments in solar technology.
Another bonus is that the transition between transparent and non-transparent state, does not degrade the electronic properties of the window pane over time, keeping it stable.
At the moment the lab tests required the outside temperature to be around 100 degrees Celsius for the technology to work, but Yang said they are working on bringing it down to 60 degrees Celsius.
The team were actually in the middle of investigating the phase transition of the material, an inorganic perovskite, when they came across the discovery.
“This class of inorganic halide perovskite has amazing phase transition chemistry,” said Yang.