New Energy Technologies Inc., a company that produces advanced alternative and renewable energy technologies, recently announced the development of a novel, patent-pending nanotechnology process for “spraying” a solar-cell coating onto glass.
The spray process marks an advance from the company’s existing solar coatings for glass, and “could translate into important manufacturing advantages for our SolarWindow, including significant cost-savings, high-speed production, and room-temperature deposition—common barriers to commercial success for innovative solar technologies,” Meetesh V. Patel, president and CEO of New Energy Technologies, said in the company’s announcement on the spray process.
Patel said the ability to spray solar coatings directly onto glass follows another recent advance for the company in solar-cell technology for glass—the replacement of visibility-blocking metal with environmentally friendly see-through compounds. This “marks an important advance in the development of our see-thru glass windows capable of generating electricity,” he said.
The company is also the developer of MotionPower™ technologies for generating sustainable electricity from the kinetic energy of moving vehicles and SolarWindow™ technologies capable of generating electricity on see-through glass windows.
The production of solar-generated electricity on glass is made possible by tiny working solar cells that, along with their related components, have been successfully sprayed onto glass surfaces by researchers developing New Energy’s SolarWindow.
The company says these ultra-small solar cells measure less than one-fourth the size of a grain of rice, are fabricated using environmentally-friendly materials, and successfully produce electricity. The performance properties of the ultra-small solar cells enable development of an ultra-thin film—1/10th of a micrometer. The SolarWindow technology is under development for commercial applications in buildings.
Once scaled up for use in commercial-scale production, New Energy Technologies said it anticipates that the solar coatings will be sprayed directly onto the company’s see-through SolarWindow, and said the process could provide significant commercial production advantages over existing thin films.
The company said conventional solar films are typically manufactured using methods that rely on high-temperature “vacuum-deposition” processes for depositing solar materials onto substrates. The resultant products are regarded as too thick to allow for transparency, an important consideration in the development of a commercially viable solar-powered glass window.
New Energy recently said researchers successfully dealt with a significant transparency-related obstacle in the development of the SolarWindow technology—the presence of metal, an opaque material which blocks visibility and prevents light from passing through glass. Eliminating metal has proved particularly challenging, since the metal component acts as the negative “polar contact”—an important function in collecting the electricity generated from solar cells on the surface of the glass.
The recent nanotechnology development replaces visibility-blocking metal with more transparent compounds. These compounds now function as the negative polar contact and collect electricity from the SolarWindow, the company said.
New Energy Technologies, based in Burtonsville, MD, is a developer of advanced alternative and renewable energy technologies.