Glass skyscrapers as an energy source
Imagining a glass skyscraper which, instead of using energy, is itself a source of energy for the entire building sounds like the future, but recent studies suggest that this could soon become a reality.
Buildings with glass facades often have a coating that reflects and absorbs at least part of the light to reduce brightness and heating inside the building.
Transparent solar panels instead of dispersing the energy they could use it to supply part of the building's electricity needs.
A team led by University of Michigan researchers, set a new efficiency record for both transparent and color-neutral solar cells in August 2020. The team achieved 8.1% efficiency and 43.3% transparency by replacing conventional silicon with an organic or carbon-based structure.
Meanwhile, UbiQD, an advanced materials company based in New Mexico, continues to develop transparent solar panels which are indistinguishable from regular glass. The company uses 'quantum dots' - microscopic particles that manipulate light - to collect solar energy. These solar panels could be complemented by windows.
"We imagine a world where sunlight gathering is omnipresent, a future in which our cities are powered by quantum dot stained glass on skyscrapers" said Hunter McDaniel, founder and CEO of UbiQD.
In May 2020, UbiQD partnered with quantum dot manufacturer Nanosys to develop luminous films for greenhouses.
UbiGro installed in greenhouses helps plants to get more out of sun. The system uses fluorescence to create a more optimal light spectrum for crop, converting portions of sunlight into orange light that is more photosynthetically efficient for plants.