Glass to Power: building solar panels into your windows

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Solar panels embedded within your window? This is what an Italian startup is promising, working on a new technology harnessing the power of nanoparticles. Glass to Power hails from Milan, where it was born as a spinoff from the innovation lab of the local university, and it has rapidly emerged as one of the most interesting names in tech innovation and sustainable energy. Their long-term vision projects a future in which both households and industrial plants will be powered by solar energy transformed by their own windowpanes.

How it works

The core of Glass to Power’s technology sounds simple enough to the untrained ear: a sheet of Plexiglass, sandwiched between two normal glass panes, acquires superpowers, in the form of nanocrystals of semiconductors that are weaved through the material. The semiconductors convert sunlight into infrared beams that are carried to the edge of the pane, where silicon solar cells turn the infrared photons into usable electric power. This is, of course, but a layman’s explanation of this revolutionary new technology, but it should be enough to convey the virtually limitless potential of Glass to Power’s idea. Currently, the Plexiglass panes convert at lower rates than normal solar panels (5% against the standard 20%), but it is esteemed that this would be enough to power a large glass-panelled building. Other possible usages for this technology include “smart walls” for offices and public buildings, powering anything from curtains to led lighting and wi-fi.

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Sustainability and Circularity: Italy leads the way

Italy is leading the way in sustainable innovation and circular economy, thanks in no small measure to its lively startup scene. Numerous universities are starting innovation labs and encouraging young researchers and anyone with a brilliant idea to develop their vision, by creating a positive ecosystem that is conducive to the flourishing of revolutionary startups such as Glass to Power.

Glass to Power: a success story

Glass to Power is the brainchild of Sergio Brovelli and Francesco Mainardi, two professors at Milan’s Bicocca University. Founded in 2016, the startup was crowdfunded and fetched an impressive €2,25Mln (at the moment of writing this article, Glass To Power campaign holds the record for the highest sum ever reached on CrowdFundMe. In 2019, the project is expected to reach the production stage, after raking up awards and praise from all over the world.

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She is a part-time digital nomad. She would go full-time, if only she could stay away from Berlin for long enough without pining for a Pretzel. She was born in Italy and she enjoys life as an expat, but visits home often enough and can still remember how to bake a perfect lasagna. She is passionate about writing, marketing, languages and the systematic demolition of cultural stereotypes.

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