Interest in alternative energy sources has been on the rise for several years, with solar a strong candidate for change. However, space limitations due to agricultural uses and environmental impacts restrict solar application. Integrated photovoltaics offer a solution by utilizing existing structures as the base for which to be installed.
Luminescent Solar Concentrators (LSCs) consist of a waveguide coupled with photovoltaic cells. UCSC's design, targeting greenhouses, utilizes fluorescent dyes that convert light unused by plants to wavelengths suitable for photosynthesis. The dye absorbs incident light and readmits it isotropically; light that is not emitted in the escape cone is "guided" through total internal reflection to front-facing photovoltiac cells, thus providing the necessary light for plant growth and generating energy to power the greenhouse.
UCSC partners with the photovoltiac company Soliculture to optimize the efficiency of the LSC panels and lower the costs of installation, working to bring them to market in the near future.