Ubiquitous Energy’s Technology Turns Windows Into Solar Panels

Ubiquitous Energy’s Technology Turns Windows Into Solar Panels

While fossil fuels are clearly not the long-term solution to the world’s insatiable hunger for electricity, solar power certainly isn’t ready to take over just yet. But that’s not for lack of available energy. Enough sunlight falls on the Earth each hour to keep the lights on for a whole year. The challenge is to capture it — a task that fledgling firm, Ubiquitous Energy wants to make a little easier by turning every window into a solar panel.

The new company has developed a transparent, infrared-absorbing film which can be applied to standard glass. As sunlight hits the film-equipped glass and heats it up, the film starts to “glow” with infrared light. This energy is then captured and turned into usable electricity by solar cells, which are mounted around the edges of the glass. It is a system that is likely to be cost-efficient, both to install and replace, which is particularly important given the relative fragility of glass. What is more, if such a system were to be installed on a skyscraper, the surface area for energy capture would be huge.

Ubiquitous Energy's film is transparent

The potential is exciting, then, but a degree of patience is needed — the technology is some way off being ready for real-world use. The current prototypes are about 1% efficient at turning sunlight into power, which is quite a downgrade on the current industry standard of 20%. However, the plan is to continue developing the technology, with the first commercial applications (such as on large-scale buildings) projected for five years’ time, according to Ubiquitous Energy’s co-founder, Richard Lunt.

The film is some way off real-world use

Speaking to Michigan State University’s blog, Lunt states that the company’s eventual goal is to integrate the technology into “any kind of mobile device that demands high aesthetic quality like a phone or e-reader”, and that they want to “make solar harvesting surfaces that you do not even know are there”.

To find out more about the film, check out Ubiquitous Energy’s website.

Mark is best known for writing about apps, but he also loves the tactile, hardware side of technology. Being a professional photographer, he's pretty handy with a camera, and he's a self-confessed tweetaholic.
Join the Discussion

You Might Also Like

These futuristic robots can truly make your life easier

These futuristic robots can truly make your life easier

Love the idea of having a robot help at home or work? So do we, because those floors aren’t going to mop themselves. So that’s why we’re rounding up our favorite robots that make your life easier. From robot vacuums..
Top games of the week—Shadowrun: Edge Zone, Cookie Run: Kingdom & more

Top games of the week—Shadowrun: Edge Zone, Cookie Run: Kingdom & more

Get your fill of dungeons, monsters, and magical worlds in this week’s top board game roundup. With titles like ShadowRun: Edge Zone, Dragonbane, and Dungeon Brah, these fantasy games have an edge. Create a monster army out of clay and..
Treat the audiophile in you with these smart headphones and speakers

Treat the audiophile in you with these smart headphones and speakers

So you’re an audiophile and the typical headphones and speakers simply aren’t enough for your music, movies, and games. We get it. For that reason, we’re highlighting premium smart headphones and speakers. They tune to your tastes. Related: The best..
The best EDC gadgets to make your daily commute easier and more organized

The best EDC gadgets to make your daily commute easier and more organized

Commuting every day isn’t easy. When you’re on the move, things—important things—can get lost or misplaced. But that doesn’t have to happen to you. Not when you own some of the best EDC gadgets around. These gadgets are small but..
CASIRIS A6 4K UST triple laser projector: a next-gen BT.2020 projector with true color

CASIRIS A6 4K UST triple laser projector: a next-gen BT.2020 projector with true color

CASIRIS, a laser display technology company with a background in producing laser cinema projectors, unveiled its new 4K UST triple laser projector for home entertainment: CASIRIS A6. Stunning 80”–120” 4K UHD image with HDR10 The bigger, the clearer, the better...
Must-have travel gadgets and accessories you need to pack for your autumn vacation

Must-have travel gadgets and accessories you need to pack for your autumn vacation

Planning a fall getaway? It’s a smart move, what with the cooler temperatures, thinner crowds, and accommodation discounts. But if you travel off-season, you still want the latest travel gear. So check out these must-have travel gadgets for autumn vacations...