In their quest for new materials for solar windows with ubiquitous tint, UbiQD, a company based in Los Alamos, New Mexico (US), has developed less toxic quantum dots.
“We make quantum dots based on benign elements like copper, zinc, and sulfur, as opposed to the typically toxic ones made from cadmium, lead, or phosphorus,” says Hunter McDaniel, PhD, founder and CEO of UbiQD, which stands for ubiquitous quantum dots. The advanced materials have low-self absorption and high-efficiency near-infrared emission, which enable the solar window product.
Advantages over previous solar window materials
“Our approach of using guided luminescence is relatively unique, at least in windows,” McDaniel says. The new concept is called luminescent solar concentration — or LSC. “Most other approaches involve trying to make organic solar cells very thin, and those have low efficiency, reliability issues and poor aesthetics.” Lines on the glass are one aesthetics problem of previous solar glass products, for example.
Advancing the manufacturing of quantum dots
“We have a chemically efficient non-injection method,” McDaniel says, adding that the innovation enables minimization of cost and relatively simple scale-up.
Impact on future designs of solar windows
“We see our technology as enabling solar windows to become real, and our approach is to create a sunlight-harvesting window that looks like any ordinary tinted window,” McDaniel says. “The key is performance and fast return on investment without sacrificing aesthetics.”
McDaniel says the novel nanomaterial can find many applications, including healthcare, lighting, displays, security, safety, non-destructive testing, design and more. “Quantum dots are a platform technology, but as a small company, we have to focus,” he says.
“We need to prove performance and reliability at scale in a real-world setting,” about what is going to happen next in this research endeavor. “The next big milestones for us will be around product development and the launch of pilot projects.”
Written by Sandra Henderson, Research Editor, Solar Novus Today