March 26, 2008 - Large-scale solar power plants are expected to proliferate in the near future, and small-scale solar power is increasingly useful for personal appliances. But the installation of solar panels on houses and buildings tends to suffer from the not-quite-right syndrome: a bit too costly, and not really efficient enough... not to mention an eye-sore in some situations. Octillion Corp’s NanoPower Window technology can convert existing glass windows into solar power generators; an unobtrusive, easily installable and updateable solution for residential and commercial buildings. Octillion has recently announced a plan to improve the deposition of silicon nanoparticles on to glass – a key step in making the technology mass-producible.
The NanoPower Window system involves covering windows with thin films of silicon nanoparticles, which act as photovoltaic solar cells – absorbing ultraviolet light and converting it into electrical current. The process doesn’t significantly affect the transparency of the window, and requires no major changes in manufacturing infrastructure. The silicon nanoparticles are produced by a patented electrochemical and ultrasound process. They are identically sized, (1 to 4 nanometers in diameter), and provide varying wavelengths of photoluminescence and high quantum efficiency of 50% to 60%.
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Until now, the weak link in the process was the application of the particles on to the glass. Octillion previously relied on manually constructed, purpose-built, custom electrospray system elements. By replacing them with less costly, commercial components, Octillion has made the process faster and more cost-effective.
“This advancement allows us to speed-up one of the most important steps in development of our NanoPower Window technology, and certainly helps better prepare for the transition from the lab towards larger-scale testing and production,” explained Mr. Nicholas S. Cucinelli, President and CEO of Octillion Corp. “This new ability to integrate off-the-shelf components in the deposition process is promising and indicative of a path towards building a lower-cost production technology.”
Octillion is not the only company researching window-based solar generators. In addition to harvesting energy, Konarka Technologies is developing a metallic grid electrode technology that allows users to control the transparency of the window. Seamlessly incorporating solar power generators into the material of buildings maximizes the potential surface area for solar receptors, and reduces the ugliness factor - allowing both the bottom line, the building, and maybe even the environment, to look good.