Researchers from the University of California-Santa Cruz have shown that greenhouses made with a special pink glass can control temperature and generate solar electricity at the same time.

The windows use an embedded magenta luminescent dye to transmit some energy from sunlight to thin solar panels along the windows.

The pink dye changes the nature of light passing to plants below, removing a lot of the green and some of the blue light wavelengths while enhancing red wavelengths, which drives more photosynthesis activity in plants.

The researchers expected that cutting out some of the light would hinder plant growth but found that plants grew just as well. In fact, when tested with 20 different types of food plants, 20% were found to grow better and there was a small decrease in water use.

Meanwhile, the green and blue wavelengths are absorbed by wavelength‐selective photovoltaic systems which combine luminescent solar cell technology with conventional silicon‐based PV to generate electricity.

The technology has great potential in the greenhouse-grown food industry, which has expanded sixfold in the last 20 years to around 3.5 million acres.