Office of Technology Transfer – University of Michigan

Semi-transparent photovoltaics with angle-insensitive transmissive colors

Technology #6012

Photovoltaics and solar power is currently the third most important energy source in terms of globally installed capacity. Interest in photovoltaic solutions is expected to increase in coming years due to growing concern about climate change and rising energy costs. At the end of 2013 nearly 139 GW of photovoltaic systems had been installed globally. Many of these installed photovoltaic systems are integrated into buildings, however, the traditionally dark and dull-colored solar panels are not visually appealing. Attempts at creating colored photovoltaic modules using films and dyes have resulted in panels which suffer from incident light angle sensitivity, color shifting and degradation issues.

Amorphous silicon photovoltaics are effective and colorful solutions

Recently solar cells have been created in a variety of distinct colors from un-doped amorphous silicon which is capable of filtering incident white light into specific colors. These photovoltaic modules are insensitive to the incidence-angle and polarization of the light. Because the coloring is controlled by the thickness of an ultra-thin a-Si layer, these photovoltaics due not have the same degradation issues that solar cells colored by dye, colored filters or films have had. Efficient and colorful photovoltaic modules are attractive and can be easily integrated into devices, decorations and designs for commercial and personal use.

Applications

  • Decorative paneling for interior and exterior of commercial and residential buildings
  • Electricity generating photovoltaics for display
  • Cascaded photovoltaics for greater electricity generation
  • Building integrated photovoltaics for new construction or retrofitting to existing buildings

Advantages

  • Variety of colors and tints
  • Incident angle and light polarization insensitive
  • Power-generating