In 2010 Ubiquitous Energy was formed to create a truly transparent solar solution. But what does truly transparent solar mean? To us, truly transparent means you can’t see the transparent solar technology with our human eyes. It is virtually invisible to all products our technology is applied to. Let’s break it down into steps that will explain more about what this technology can truly do:

Step 1: How does UE Power™work?

Step 2: What does transparent really mean?

Step 3: How is this used?

Step 1 | How does UE Power™ work:

The Why

Miles Barr, CTO at Ubiquitous Energy, Richard Lunt, Professor at Michigan State University, and Vladimir Bulovic, MIT Professor, Director of MIT.nano, worked together to develop a technology that would allow solar to be applied to virtually any surface. Miles Barr explained, “As the growing concern for climate change became a more urgent topic, we saw the unique opportunity to expand the way we currently were harnessing the sun’s power.”

While traditional solar panels use photovoltaic cells to absorb sunlight and convert it into electricity, their solar cells are opaque, which limits their use to applications such as rooftop solar systems or large solar farms.

The Science

By creating solar cells that allow visible light through, while simultaneously absorbing the invisible ultraviolet and infrared light into electricity, we’ve created transparent solar which allows our technology to be installed virtually anywhere the potential for solar harvesting is available. Before we get too much further, and we all try to remember what we learned about ultraviolet and infrared in our science classes, here’s a quick refresher on what these key terms mean:

Ultraviolet Light

Ultraviolet (UV) Light refers to the section of the electromagnetic spectrum between visible light and X-rays. Electromagnetic radiation is not visible to the human eye because it has a shorter wavelength and higher frequency than the light that our brain distinguishes as images.

Infrared Light

Infrared (IR) Light, sometimes called infrared light, is electromagnetic radiation with wavelengths longer than those of visible light. It is therefore like UV also invisible to the human eye. A common example of what we use to see infrared is to use infrared goggles to see people or animals in the dark.

The easiest way to remember where UV and IR light’s placement is on the electromagnetic spectrum is to review each end of the visible light spectrum:

  • Red has light with the longest wavelength
  • Violet has light with the shortest wavelength.
  • Light with a wavelength immediately shorter than any light in the visible spectrum is called Ultraviolet Light
  • Light with a wavelength longer than any light in the visible spectrum is called Infrared Light.

Step 2: What does transparent really mean?

While creating the technology to let visible light pass through, it was important to keep all the aesthetic properties of traditional transparent glass intact. For our first prototypes, we added our technology to glass, but we didn’t just want to be able to let light through the glass. We wanted to not see our technology at all, meaning no optical distortions, no haze, and no color. These other optical properties are necessary and what allows standard glass and glazing practices in the glass world to seamlessly integrate our technology into their products.

With over 20 billion square feet of glass installed every year, we know that our technology will be an integral part in bringing the building industry to its goal of a truly net-zero tomorrow. By ensuring that you can’t see the difference between traditional passive glass and ours is what sets us apart from anything in the market.

Step 3: How is this used?

Transparent Solar Today | UE Power™

Today, Ubiquitous Energy has integrated our patented UE Power™ into architectural glass. This allows passive glass to now absorb UV and IR rays to harness the energy into electricity that can offset up to 30% of a building’s electricity consumption. Our first installation was at our headquarters in Redwood City, CA where the technology was installed and is currently used to power the lights in our largest conference room. At Michigan State University, the installation is designed to power the lights in their atrium where students get to experience our technology when entering the Biomedical and Physical Sciences building.

UE Power™ | Future Applications

As we launch our product into the architectural glass market, we will be gearing up to bring our technology to markets that we have identified that will bring relief to increasing strain on the electrical grid and make impactful changes to our carbon footprint. Some of those applications are:

  • Agriculture
  • Personal Electronic Devices
  • Automobiles

With the ability to make solar technology truly transparent, the application possibilities are endless. We are committed to a renewable future and look forward to sharing more with you along our journey.

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