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Chemists at the University of California, Berkeley, have developed a new type of window tint. When darkened, these smart windows generate electricity – which could provide for a much more sustainable future.

This innovative technology has the potential for use in generating power for everything – from electrically powered vehicles to skyscrapers and beyond. The applications for such a form of solar energy are limitless.

The window tint is like traditional solar panels. After generating electricity from the sun, the windows send it to an inverter. This inverter changes the electricity current from DC to AC. This power may then be used to power electrical devices in either a car or structure.

Perovskite is the mineral used to formulate these new smart windows. When the crystal is heated it goes through a process which allows for more light absorption and the generation of electrical currents.


Work Remaining Prior to Being Available

Before this revolutionary product can be sent to market, there are still some things the team of California researchers need to do. The primary issue currently is that the team need to lower the temperature necessary to transform the windows from clear to darkened. Currently the necessary temperature is 212 F, which is quite high. The hopes are that this can be accomplished at 150 F to make the windows more efficient.

Another issue is that these windows only generate electricity from around 7% of the sunlight they receive. Some experts argue that solar-power products are not marketable until they effective energize a minimum of 10% of the sun’s energy. To put this into perspective, commercial solar panels are currently able to convert approximately 20% of the sunlight they come into contact with.

Another issue – albeit significantly smaller than energy applications – is that people do not like colored windows. When this new tint is producing electricity, it turns to shades of yellow or red. This could potentially put off several users who value aesthetic appeal. One of the primary appeals of tinted windows is their dark, near-black coloring.

The Berkeley Lab already has something underway to fix the tint color issues. Using chromogenic glazing, the team is working to darken the windows post-market. This glaze is one of three different forms which alters the composition of whatever it is applied to.


Confident in Their Abilities

The team of chemists at the University of California, Berkeley are confident that these obstacles can be overcome to create a revolutionary, marketable product. While the team warns that it is not unusual for inventions to take ten years from lab discovery to a marketable product, they are making great strides.

Along their journey they believe they will find new ways to improve the final product, so it is affordable, viable, effective, and highly sustainable. Even better, they believe there may be applications for their discovery which have yet to be thought of. While ensuring their solar smart windows are ready for market they may discover these as-of-yet unseen uses.  

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