Scientists at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have turned transparent glass into a temperature-activated material that can block sunlight and generate electricity. In the short term, these photovoltaic windows may become a complementary power source. Eventually, however, they could fully charge electric cars and even power entire buildings.

According to team member and post-doctoral fellow, Jia Lin, these panes could be easily and cost-effectively mass-produced for offices, homes, cars, airplanes or any object that uses glass.

Even though the material still faces some technical hurdles, it holds incredible promise for architects and designers. The glass could dramatically reduce the amount of power buildings consume and reshape their intrinsic thermal features. According to Lin, smart buildings will be able to regulate temperature thanks to the glass’s shading capabilities.

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