Quantum Dots Power Double-Pane Solar Windows

The Quantum world and Solar Windows.

There is nothing weirder than quantum physics. Everything we thought we need about how everything in the universe functions and the rules that guide this , do not apply at the level of the atom and electron. This new set of rules for the quantum world is still be developed by scientists ( quantum physics ), however this has not stopped researchers in developing applications for quantum science.

D-Wave Quantum Computer

D-Wave Quantum Computer

One example is the quantum computer which is actively being developed by companies like Google and IBM. Quantum radio is allowing engineers to develop super sensitive sensors for measuring the world around us. Quantum dots is starting to yield opportunities in solar power.


Imagine if we could eventually move beyond the current ugly black solar pv panels located in a field or on our roof’s to a shingle or pane of glass that also generates clean solar electricity! This is the focus for researchers all over the world.

Tesla is now selling solar pv shingles

Tesla is now selling solar pv shingles but solar windows may be an even better idea.

Companies like Tesla and Dow are right now selling residential solar PV shingles. I think the Tesla product looks way better. If we can also produce solar windows that can be used alongside solar shingles, we will easily generate enough electricity to be able to store the excess for use when it is dark

Dow solar shingles produce clean solar electricity

Dow solar shingles produce clean solar electricity – could this lead to solar windows?

Using two types of “designer” quantum dots, researchers are creating double-pane solar windows that generate electricity with greater efficiency and create shading and insulation for good measure. It’s all made possible by a new window architecture which utilizes two different layers of low-cost quantum dots tuned to absorb different parts of the solar spectrum.

Lead researcher Victor Klimov commented for us:

Because of the strong performance we can achieve with low-cost, solution-processable materials, these quantum-dot-based double-pane windows and even more complex luminescent solar concentrators offer a new way to bring down the cost of solar electricity. The approach complements existing photovoltaic technology by adding high-efficiency sunlight collectors to existing solar panels or integrating them as semitransparent windows into a building’s architecture.

The key to this advance is “solar-spectrum splitting,” which allows one to process separately higher- and lower-energy solar photons. The higher-energy photons can generate a higher photovoltage, which could boost the overall power output. This approach also improves the photocurrent as the dots used in the front layer are virtually “reabsorption free.”

To achieve this, the Los Alamos team incorporates into quantum dots ions of manganese that serve as highly emissive impurities. Light absorbed by the quantum dots activates these impurities. Following activation, the manganese ions emit light at energies below the quantum-dot absorption onset. This trick allows for almost complete elimination of losses due to self-absorption by the quantum dots.

To transform a window into a tandem luminescent sunlight collector, the Los Alamos team deposits a layer of highly emissive manganese-doped quantum dots onto the surface of the front glass pane and a layer of copper indium selenide quantum dots onto the surface of the back pane. The front layer absorbs the blue and ultraviolet portions of the solar spectrum, while the rest of the spectrum is picked up by the bottom layer.

Following absorption, the dot re-emits a photon at a longer wavelength, and then the re-emitted light is guided by total internal reflection to the glass edges of the window. There, solar cells integrated into the window frame collect the light and convert it to electricity.

About the Research

Publication: Kaifeng Wu, Hongbo Li, and Victor I. Klimov, Tandem luminescent solar concentrators based on engineered quantum dots, Nature Photonics, DOI 10.1038/s41566-017-0070-7, January 1, 2018.

Project members: Kaifeng Wu (Director’s Postdoctoral Fellow), Hongbo Li (Postdoctoral Research Associate, Victor I. Klimov (Laboratory Fellow, Project Leader).

Acknowledgements: This work was supported by the Center for Advanced Solar Photophysics (CASP), an Energy Frontier Research Centre funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, Basic Energy Sciences

U.S. DOE About U.S. DOE

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.