One of the biggest complaints about solar energy is that the setups aren’t very attractive. A team of material engineers at Michigan State University have developed solar concentrators that are completely transparent, which means they can be used on windows without disturbing the view or even on smartphone screens. The research was led by Richard Lunt and the paper was featured on the cover of the journal Advanced Optical Materials.
Solar concentrators are used to lens sunlight, focusing it on a small area to maximize the amount of light, maximizing the amount of electricity generated. This is similar to using a magnifying glass to set leaves on fire. These can be quite large and a bit of an eyesore, as they are very much function over form. While many people have been attempting to create a see-through lens for years, the balance between efficiency and transparency has been hard to come by, with most prior attempts resulting in a colored product.