The growth of crops such as wheat, mung beans, and broccoli in two different experiments was studied under two different greenhouse roof materials: one with a transparent glass roof with segments of inorganic solar cells on the greenhouse, and the other where the roof was made entirely from semi-transparent organic solar cells. The crops in the greenhouse with the organic solar roof grew more than the crops in the regular greenhouse.
Reporting on the study, “Achieving sustainability of greenhouses by integrating stable semi-transparent organic photovoltaics,”, published in Nature Sustainability, an article in Electrek (March 14, 2023) explained that the organic solar cells were made of a layer of L-glutathione, a tripeptide molecule made up of three amino acids: glutamine, cysteine, and glycine. The scientists believe that the growth happened because the L-glutathione layer blocked both ultraviolet rays that can inhibit plant growth and infrared rays that can cause greenhouses to overheat. The team found that adding L-glutathione extended the solar cells’ lifetime, improved their efficiency, and still allowed sunlight to reach plants in the greenhouse prototype, which was about the size of a small dollhouse.