We’ve all been captivated by the beauty of stained glass windows, be they in cathedrals in far flung corners of the globe or parlors right here on our own doorstep. The promise of “solar-windows” has been a long time coming, with engineers approaching the issue from different angles; they either work on transparent solar cells from which to make a window, or traditional windows that can be covered with a conductive film capable of generating a charge.
So, have we finally cracked the problem once and for all?
Dutch designer Marjan van Aubel has produced a window that is as practical as it is aesthetically pleasing. Her Current Window uses dye sensitised solar cells to bring a modern look and purpose to traditional stained-glass windows, with a small battery stored in the ledge with USB outputs for charging mobile phones and other gadgets.
“The greater the surface exposed, the more energy will be collected,” says van Aubel. “Imagine these windows in churches, schools, and workplaces!”
Although you can’t run a whole house (or anything even close!) with these solar windows at the moment, it’s an inspirational example of sustainable design and innovation.
The tasteful pattern on the glass surface was conceived by Marine Duroselle, with various shades of green chlorophyll that absorbs light and creates electricity through a process similar to photosynthesis in plants.
Even non-direct and diffused sunlight can generate a small electrical charge, with the window requiring around seven hours of light to gather enough juice to charge a modern smartphone.
Cynics may argue that this isn’t much of a development, however a solar solution might just be enough to keep your devices charged through storms and blackouts. Considering the difficulties experienced in Sydney recently, it could just be something like a solar window that keeps you connected to the outside world right when you need it most!