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Source: Michigan State University

The Solar Panels Of The Future Are Invisible And They Could Power Your Home

By Tessa Love

It's no secret that solar energy has the potential to completely disrupt our reliance on fossil fuels and lead to a cleaner, more sustainable planet. But the design of the solar panels you see out in the world today come with a few problems: They're big, they're expensive, they're not aesthetically pleasing and because for the most part they have to be stationary, they can only power homes and buildings. 

Luckily there is a lot of innovation in this area. The startup Build Solar is producing solar power units encased in glass blocks, which can be used like windows and seamlessly integrate into a building's facade; Audi is working on solar panels that integrate into the roof of a car; and Tesla is creating panels that look just like the shingles on a roof. Now, in the latest innovation, researchers at Michigan State University have had a breakthrough in solar technology that has led to a completely transparent solar material, which could turn your windows—or even your smartphone—into energy-producing, emissions-cutting devices. 

The glass-like solar material is made with proprietary molecules developed by the MSU researchers. The molecules absorb invisible wavelengths of light but still allow visible light to pass through. This generates power via near-infrared and ultraviolet wavelengths while providing an unsuspecting window or screen.