Solar windows for sustainable power

Solar stained-glass window marries design with sustainable science.

A London-based Dutch designer has combined art, science, chemistry and solar know-how to bring beauty and energy to buildings via a power-producing stained-glass window.

Marjan van Aubel has teamed up with scientists, designers and manufacturers to create a window using coloured glass and dye-sensitised solar cells.

The window can charge small electrical devices via USB ports incorporated into its frame or ledge, and is aptly titled “Current Window”.

Mimicking photosynthesis

It all works by putting titanium dioxide particles on a piece of transparent glass that is then dyed. The dyeing allows the titanium dioxide to better absorb sunlight.

Like photosynthesis – how plants convert sunlight into energy – the dyed solar glass uses the properties of colour to harness light to create energy.

When light falls on the pattern of blue, orange, and pink dye-sensitised solar cells, electrons stored in the titanium dioxide are released, creating an electrical current.

Unlike traditional solar cells that require direct sunlight to generate a current, van Aubel’s designs can charge even in diffused light.

The solar cells are packed between two panes of toughened glass and connected to a battery. The window can sustainably generate up to 25 watts per day, and the battery provides power in low light conditions.

Not just for homes

The first “Current Window” will be installed in a London home later in 2015.

Van Aubel’s window will not only suit home-owners looking for renewable energy, but will also offer significant sustainable energy benefits when installed in schools, hospitals, libraries and offices, which can harness free, sustainable power from their larger window areas.

See de zeen magazine for more information.