Semi-transparent solar cells

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Semi-transparent solar cells are a type of technology that combines the benefits of visible light transparency and light-to-electricity conversion. One of the biggest opportunities for such technologies is in their integration as windows and skylights within energy-sustainable buildings. Currently, such building integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) are dominated by crystalline silicon based modules; however, the opaque nature of silicon creates a unique opportunity for the adoption of emerging photovoltaic candidates that can be made truly semi-transparent. These include: amorphous silicon-, kesterite-, chalcopyrite-, CdTe-, dye-sensitized-, organic- and perovskite- based systems. For the most part, amorphous silicon has been the workhorse in the semi-transparent solar cell field owing to its established, low-temperature fabrication processes. Excitement around alternative classes, particularly perovskites and the inorganic candidates, has recently arisen because of the major efficiency gains exhibited by these technologies. Importantly, each of these presents unique opportunities and challenges within the context of BIPV. This topic review provides an overview into the broader benefits of semi-transparent solar cells as building-integrated features, as well as providing the current development status into all of the major types of semi-transparent solar cells technologies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number093001
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Physics D: Applied Physics
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 3 Feb 2017


  • bi-facial
  • BIPV
  • perovskite
  • semi-transparent
  • solar cell

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