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Why transparent solar panels work like invisible magic elves

Are you a fan of solar energy?

Are you already actively using it?

Or do you think it is great  – but please not where I can see it?

Since some years I live in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. And if there is one thing we have more than enough – next to oil, sand, luxury on display and crazy buildings – it is sun!


The CO2-neutral Masdar City


That’s why Abu Dhabi is building a CO2-neutral city. And of course solar energy plays an important role. They already used solar energy to build the city meaning they built a 10 Mega-watt solar field first and used the solar energy from it for the construction.  That’s sustainability!

masdar city solar field masdar city full solar fieldMasdar City solar panel field

The city is called Masdar City and the city’s university and student’s dorms are already finished. The dorms are fully sustainable and computer controlled. One student told me that if you open your balcony door while you have the A/C on the A/C switches off automatically. And sometimes a window closes by itself like moved by a magic hand.

masdar studen't dormsMasdar City student’s dorms

There are no cars in the city so it’s quite enjoyable to hop over and sit in one of the coffee shops. Believe me! I’ve done it. But first you have to park your car and take one of the personal rapid transport magnetic cars into the city. It’s a little a bit like taking a flat elevator; just fancier.

masdar city electro carsPersonal rapid transport magnetic cars


Some years ago using solar energy was a big problem even in this sunny country. The humidity and the sand stopped the solar panels from working. But technology improved. And it still does.

Just look at this new solar panel that was just developed by Michigan State researchers. It’s fully transparent. So technology advanced in this field as well.


How does a transparent solar panel work?


The usual solar panels that we all know make energy by absorbing sunlight (photons) and converting them into electricity (electrons). If a material is transparent by definition it means that all of the light passes through the medium.


But the Michigan State researchers use a slightly different technique to collect sunlight. They collect it in a wave-range we can’t see, the UV and the infrared range. Emitted infrared light is guided to the edge of plastic, where thin strips of conventional photovoltaic solar cell convert it into electricity.

Isn’t that transparent?



transparent solar panel; courtesy:

So, instead of trying to create a transparent photovoltaic cell (which is impossible), they created a so called transparent luminescent solar concentrator, short TLSC. The TLSC consists of organic salts that absorb the non-visible wavelengths of UV and infrared light, which they then luminesce (glow) at another wavelength of infrared light (also non-visible).

Check out the full research paper if interested: ‘Near-Infrared Harvesting Transparent Luminescent Solar Concentrators’


Like invisible elves


These transparent solar panels are just amazing! Imagine how much is going on inside these transparent solar panels? We just can’t see it. It all happens in the invisible light range. It’s like having invisible magic elves. They are constantly working but you can’t see them.


The Michigan State researchers are still working to increase the efficiency of the transparent solar panels. And of course they are confident they will. And they are confident that these transparent solar panels will be affordable.


A beautiful future


I want to believe them because it would be a wonderful step forward in the field of solar energy to have beautiful, practical and efficient solar panels.


And one day I want to look out of my transparent energy producing solar panel window and imagine all my invisible hard working magic elves.

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Hi I'm Ilka, a self-development writer and lovable scientist with a knowledgeable expertise in brain science. I help people realize the power our behavior has on our brain - and the other way around.

writerwannabe763 - March 27, 2015

Technology is amazing… especially the work that has been done in this city…. Diane
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    simplyilka - March 29, 2015

    Yes Diane!

    You are so right. I am glad that the technology in especially the solar field is advancing 🙂

    Have a great day, Ilka

Harleena Singh - March 27, 2015

Hi Ilka,

That was so well explained 🙂

Youngsters would love to live in the Masdar City student’s dorms if they’d get a chance! Good to know so much is being done – wish we had such advanced technology in our country, and though they have a little, it’s certainly not so vast as yet.

I’d love to live in a place where there are no cars! Perhaps they have no other vehicles running there too, and the amount of good they are doing to the environment alongside the saving of energy is commendable. The concept of parking your cars and taking up these magnetic ones is so good, and I wish more places would take up this concept.

You are right about the transparent solar panels working like magic elves…lol…loved that part, as things happen on the quiet and you don’t even get to know of them! Cheers to the future 🙂

Thanks for sharing. Have a nice weekend 🙂
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    simplyilka - March 29, 2015

    Hi Harleena!

    I am glad you like the concept of Masdar City. They really a lot of thought into it. And because there are no cars they took care of nice shades so that it is easy to walk around. The city is still small though. But the technology they are using is very advanced. And I like the combination of simple life and carefully using the best technology.

    I am glad you liked the ‘elves’. True; so much is happening in the quiet 🙂

    Have a great day 🙂

Rachel Martin - March 27, 2015

I’d never heard of Masdar before. Interesting concept. I love cities without cars and I wish there were more of them. More solar power is a good thing too.
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    simplyilka - March 29, 2015

    Thanks Rachel!

    I agree that solar power is a good thing. And who knows? Maybe people see how the concept works in Masdar city and copy it somewhere else.

    Have a great day 🙂

Sherri Matthews - March 27, 2015

I learn so much from you Ilka! I have never heard of these transparent solar panels but I like them so much better than what are being used already. Here in the UK, more and more people are having them put in on their roofs (my mother included) and some qualify for free installation by the Government, so I believe. I love the idea of those little flat elevators! It’s always so wonderful to learn of these kind of advancements in other parts of the world, thank you my friend 🙂
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    simplyilka - March 29, 2015

    Hi Sherri!

    You are right. One big advantage of the transparent solar panels is that they look so nice and clean. I am really thrilled that technology in the solar field in advancing so much. And i is a good thing that the governments put more effort into promoting solar energy. An its good to hear that some installations are even free.

    I am glad that you enjoyed the post 🙂

    Have a great day sherri 🙂

Ella - March 29, 2015

Hey Ilka!

I had heard of these transparent solar cells but never really understood how they work. I know there were some trials with transparent solar cells in the past. But at the end they were just not transparent. Lol! Thanks for explaining the system.
I like the magic invisible elves 😉

    simplyilka - March 29, 2015

    Hi Ella!

    I am glad the explanations helped you. You are right about the former ‘so called’ transparent solar panels. They were not really transparent 🙂

    All the best to you, Ilka

Carl D'Agostino - April 1, 2015

No more fossil fuel !

    simplyilka - April 1, 2015

    That’s the future I wish for as well 🙂

Time Traveler - April 3, 2015

I love this!!! I probably steal it for a future story.
I don’t like the bulky solar panels that we are using now. They are more like a Model T to what I hope the future brings.


    simplyilka - April 4, 2015

    I am glad you like this! I would love to read a story where the transparent solar panel is mixed with lots of imagination 🙂

Jasmine Waters - September 1, 2015

I didnt realise you can get transparent solar panels! Could you just imagine having a clear skylight in your roof, that looks like a normal window, but is secretly a solar panel? Thats amazing.
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    simplyilka - September 17, 2015

    Thank you Jasmine!

    I like the idea of lying on my floor looking through my clear solar panel into clear blue sky. Thank you for sharing that amazing thought 🙂

    Have a great day, Ilka

DBM Solar - September 9, 2015

This kind of technology certainly is amazing. It gives of energy for people to use and it helps us to save on our electricity bill. Try using it and you too will be amaze.
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    simplyilka - September 17, 2015

    Thank you for your encouraging comment.

    I do believe as well that solar energy has a great potential in the future. At the moment the lobby of other sources is still very strong but that will change once we run out of that sources: even I still hope re-thinking our energy sources will happen earlier.

    Best, Ilka

EMS Solutions - November 22, 2015

With the advantages of solar energy, it will be very useful to us in the future. The advantage of having this in your city or house is great. You can save up on your electricity bills. The work of solar energy in this city was undeniable and will continue to advance of what solar energy could do to us.
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    simplyilka - November 24, 2015

    Thank you for your comment. I agree that solar energy has lots of advantages. I hope governments will support solar energy more and more instead of using dangerous and unpredictable energy sources.

    Best, Ilka

Cindy Hoffman - January 28, 2016

That’s just awesome. Having a transparent solar panel? I can imagine getting one of those and using them as my window panes 🙂 Anyways thanks a lot for sharing the techy side of solar panels. Keep up the spirit.

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    simplyilka - January 31, 2016

    Hi Cindy!

    Thank you for your comment. I am glad you like the idea of transparent solar panels being as clear as window glass. I am amazed and thrilled as well. I am glad you liked the techie part as well.

    Take care and all the best, Ilka

Sansak Sunnergy - April 29, 2016

Hey! Thanks alot, it make people learn that how important solar energy is for everyone out there.

Awesome share!

    simplyilka - April 29, 2016

    Thanks Sansak! Solar Energy is important for sure 🙂

Micah Suarez - August 3, 2016

Hi Lika !
Thanks for the good reads, I love how you contrast the benefits and perks of solar energy to mythical creatures. It’s just so creative. In our fast-paced word that’s already bound to innovation, I really believe that the use of solar energy has the best to offer. It’s eco-friendly, which helps us sustain the environment. and 2nd, It’s a frugal option specially for developing countries!!
I hope to hear more from you.
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solar panels for homes Cairns - December 15, 2016

Solar power is a good investment, not just for the future of the environment, but for your financial health. With a good return on investment, long term benefits, and significant options for cost reduction, a solar power system for your home could be one of the smartest financial moves you can make.

Elena Prokopets - December 20, 2016

Great article Ilka! I’m glad I found your blog. I was just started to learn more things about solar panels. So far I really liked all what I read. Thanks for this great article.

Solar Naturally - May 26, 2017

Great post, Thanks for sharing all info with us. Technology is amazing and I know little about solar panels but this one is really very informative. Have a great day.

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