A team from the University of Exeter's College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Science are working on Solar Squared, which is technology that can be placed inside a glass box about the size of a normal household brick to collect electricity.
Dr Hasan Baig, who is based at the Environment and Sustainability Institute in Cornwall, said: "Buildings consume more than forty percent of the electricity produced across the globe. Deployment of standard solar technology is limited by the large area requirement and the negative visual impact.
"We wanted to overcome these limitations by introducing technologies that become a part of the building's envelope. We now have the capability to build integrated, affordable, efficient, and attractive solar technologies as part of the building's architecture, in places where energy demand is highest, whilst having minimal impact on the landscape and on quality of life.
"Given that we have the know-how of the latest developments in solar, it's simply about getting the right marriage between the product and the technology. We can tailor it to fit any product, working with the current manufacturing process rather than demanding a change to that process. In this way, we can slot into established manufacturing chains and product markets."
It is thought the new solar technology could one day be used in the building of houses and thus allow them to charge devices and equipment on the inside of their homes.
The whole idea was a collaborative process between the College and design agencies.
IIB Research Commercialisation Manager Jim Williams added: "The collaborative approach involving participants in the glass block industry and professional design agencies working closely with our academics has proved to be a powerful combination."