Swiss university discovers way to generate electricity using glass

Swiss university discovers way to generate electricity using glass

In a discovery that sounds like it is straight out of an average-selling sci-fi book, researchers at the Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL) have come up with a way of generating electricity with glass. Experts hope the invention will allow windows on houses to generate energy in the near future.

Swiss university creates way to make glass into power source

In a statement given to Blick, EPFL explained that the groundbreaking discovery allows them to convert glass into an electricity generator. Scientists said they hoped that the method could soon allow homeowners to benefit from producing green electricity by simply replacing their windows with treated glass.

So how does it work? To create the special glass, scientists at EPFL irradiated a tellurite glass with what is known as a femtosecond laser. These instruments are able to emit pulses of light every femtosecond - a few quadrillionths of a second.

Treated glass able to produce electricity for months, say EPFL

If applied correctly, the laser is able to create a special pattern on the surface of the glass. This pattern is photoconductive, which means that the glass can convert sunlight into electrical energy in the same way a solar panel does without heavily compromising its translucency, essentially creating a possible windowpane power source.

Speaking to Blick, study leader Yves Bellouard explained that the glass is able to generate electricity “for months” with the right technique. He added that the idea is also sustainable: “The interesting thing about this technology is that no additional materials are required for the process.” “Essentially we are transforming materials into something else, perhaps approaching the dream of the alchemists,” he joked.

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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