Stained Glass Windows That Generate Power With Photosynthesis-Like Process

Categories: Energy

For several years now, tech companies have been at work to develop clear solar panels that can double as windows, but the Current Window provides a gorgeous stained glass twist on that idea. Created by Dutch designer Marjan van Aubel, the window generates an electrical current by harvesting the energy created when sunlight hits a colored pigment—much like photosynthesis in a plant—and sends that power to a USB port in the window ledge. 


According to van Aubel, “The glass pieces are made of ‘Dye Sensitised Solar Cells’, which use the properties of colour to create an electrical current—just like photosynthesis in plants. Similarly to the various shades of green chlorophyll absorbing light, the coloured window panes harness energy.” That energy can then be used to power small appliances; a USB port in the window ledge can charge a standard smart phone in about seven hours.

But that’s just with one relatively small window—the designer hopes that if replicated on a larger scale, say over the vast colorful facades of churches, or in schools, the Current Window could provide clean energy in a uniquely beautiful form on a much larger scale.

What if the vast, beautiful stained glass windows of cathedrals could be used to generate energy? Dutch designer Marjan van Aubel explored this idea with her project Current Window, a modern, sustainable update on stained glass. 

The window is a fantastic example of a solution to a universal problem that manages to be both useful and aesthetically appealing.

Using the electrical current generated when sunlight hits a pigment, a process very similar to that used by plants in photosynthesis, the window can generate and store energy from the sun, even from non-direct light. But the pretty pastel colored window also has a USB port built into its sill, which can be used to power devices like phones, which van Aubel says would require about seven hours of sunlight to build up enough juice to recharge an average phone. Not bad! "The greater the surface exposed, the more energy will be collected," the designer writes on her website. "Imagine these windows in churches, schools, and workplaces!"

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