Researchers at ITMO University in St. Petersburg, Russia have developed a new glass that emits visible light when in the presence of ultraviolet radiation. UV radiation normally counteracts the performance of solar cells, and diminishes the practical lifetime of the cell.
Glass can convert UV radiation to visible light
This glass could intercept UV radiation and convert it to visible frequencies. The converted UV radiation could then actually improve the efficiency of the collector. Currently, solar collectors have variable efficiency ratings, but some collectors are only about 20% efficient. This glass could increase the efficiency of lower performing collectors by one-third.
According to the researchers, the glass is easy to produce. In addition to improving the performance of solar collectors, the glass could also extend the life of both solar cells and white LEDs.
White LEDs are currently made by coating blue LEDs with yellow phosphor. The yellow phosphor doesn’t age well, and often causes the LED to overheat. The significant rise in temperature destroys the phosphor layer and causes the LED to fail. This is particularly apparent in large LEDs – those used for public lighting on streets, airports and in stadiums.
Using the technology developed at ITMO University, photoluminescent particles can be embedded directly into glass. This improves both the durability and performance of large LED lights. Typically, large LED lights must be replaced every 6 months. This glass technology, which eliminates the LED’s main failure mode, could extend the life of LEDs to as much as 5 years.
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Photo Credit: NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory , via Flickr.com