Installing solar today often means making design concessions. The standard panels are bulky and heavy. But things should get better soon, with technology that’s more elegant and less conspicuous. Case in point: These “stained glass” solar windows from Marjan van Aubel, a Dutch designer living in London.
Van Aubel’s design is based around “dye-sensitized” solar cells developed in Switzerland. They’re made of layers of semiconductor crystals, titanium dioxide, and dye that absorbs light and excites electrons to generate a charge. The current is fed into a battery on a ledge at the bottom, where you can charge a cell phone.
“I imagine these in a church,” she says. “They would be so amazing there, but you could also have them in offices, or as facades in libraries or museums. They’re good for when you don’t want to have 100% glass, because they block some of the light. The metal parts of a window normally heat up, but these generate electricity.”
The window is a follow-up to a solar table (“The Current Table”) Van Aubel worked on previously. She’s now based with a startup accelerator called Level 39, together with her business partner Thor Schuitemaker. They recently set up a company, Caventou, to sell solar-incorporating products like the table and the window.