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Could Tellurium Be The Key Ingredient For Solar Glass?

February 8, 2024
x min read

Can a single pane of glass turn sunlight into electricity? There’s new research that suggests it might actually be possible.

What’s happening:

  • Researchers and physicists from the Swiss Federal Institute Of Technology Lausanne and scientists from Tokyo Tech have transformed glass into a photovoltaic surface that generates electricity

How it works:

  • Researchers struck a pane of glass with a femtosecond laser, which is similar to a laser that would typically be used in an eye surgery
  • The reaction between the laser and the glass created the presence of nanoscale tellurium and tellurium oxide crystals
  • Nanoscale tellurium and tellurium oxide crystals are both semiconducting materials
  • When exposed to sunlight, that semiconducting material created by tellurium is capable of generating a charge of electricity
  • This process allows a single pane of glass to become a photovoltaic surface with just one single input of materials

Why it matters:

  • This new discovery represents a potential breakthrough given that it is essentially turning glass into a semiconducting material capable of generating electricity
  • Tellurite glass surface could be a significantly less expensive alternative to traditional solar panel manufacturing

Going deeper:

  • Cadmium telluride solar panels, which use tellurium as one of the main inputs, are already one of the biggest recent breakthroughs in solar panel technology and rising to rapid adoption in the United States
  • Finding ways to turn glass into a photovoltaic material at scale could unlock new abilities to generate electricity from natural sunlight, particularly for residential homes looking to find more ways to generate renewable power

The intrigue:

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