Solar cells have certainly made lasting impressions in today's modern world, but coloured solar cells have since kicked up the sustainable game even more - all thanks to biomimicry and nanotechnology.
Going back a bit, panels were traditionally designed using thick solar cells positioned at a selective angle to capture the sun. But then the concept of thinner solar cells arose, which proved to deliver more potential and reward, an innovation-led by scientists under bioengineer Radwanul Siddique. Upon micro-observing butterfly wings, Radwanul and his team used this biomimicry to create a new type (a thinner) solar cell that was much more efficient.
Fast forward to today, solar cells using Siddique's technique have optimised solar absorption success because they can generate energy from any angle. But when one innovative door opens, so does another. And that next one just so happens to be the rise of coloured solar cells.
The Era of Coloured Solar Panels
Between biomimicry influences and nanotechnology, solar panels have come a long way in terms of converting sunlight into energy. Up until the last couple of years, the issue is that they are not exactly "pretty" to look at. Because of this, renowned brands like Tesla have started developing solar cells in the form of roof shingles together with rechargeable batteries, the Tesla Powerwall, and window solar cells to help camouflage it more for users. As wonderful as that is, another option has come about in recent years – coloured solar panels. Roof panels that were originally black were not well received by architects, contractors, and real estate investors and developments were made to blend panels with tiles of the same or a similar colour. One of the leading cases of this comes from AMOLF in the Netherlands, where nanoscientists and bioengineers were able to create a process to convert the traditional blue/black solar colour into green.
How does it work?
In simple terms, they do this by laying down nanocylinders/tubes that are 600X thinner than human hair on solar cells, which scatters the green frequencies within the light back while allowing the other colours to pass through. Thus, illuminating the green colour. The best part is that not only does this unlock new opportunities for people who crave versatility and landscape blending integration, but it can also be the very biomimicry innovation that helps continue the push for sustainable energy growth on a global scale.
“The black appearance of the conventional solar panels is not attractive for many people and a reason to not put solar panels on their rooftop,”- Verena Neder: doctoral student at AMOLF.
Summary – The Future of Coloured Solar Panels
As a quick disclaimer, these Dutch researchers were not the first team to make green energy green coloured. There have been several nanotechnology projects that have come out before and even after this particular case study. We, at Stensborg, are ourselves working on making panels in the same colour as red clay tiles. However, the real takeaway here is that coloured solar cells are now a tangible reality that allows society to finally gain all the perks of sustainable energy with aesthetics in mind.
Overall, coloured solar cells make it possible to integrate solar panels seamlessly into architectural designs and merge with landscapes. And though green is the prime colour right now, researchers have been hot on the case towards creating other colours such as red and white (think green for landscape, red for roofs, and white for siding). In summary, solar technology has and will continue to improve from its biomimicry butterfly roots, all of which make the ongoing advancements of coloured solar cells quite an exciting and soon-to-be vibrant one.
Whether you have coloured solar cell blueprints ready for nanoimprinting or a brand new innovation altogether, don’t hesitate to reach out to Stensborg Sales, to get started on raising the human experience bar today.