Powerful Ideas: Spray-On Solar Cells
Jeanna Bryner, 24 August 2009 (LiveScience)
"Solar cells soon could be painted onto the sides of buildings or rooftops with nanoparticle inks…The new nano-ink process could replace the standard method of manufacturing solar cells, which requires high temperatures and is relatively expensive…
"…[Photovoltaic solar cells] convert sunlight directly into electricity and are typically made from silicon, although other materials that are flexible are gaining steam. Solar panels used to power homes and businesses each consist of 40 or so of these cells…Rather than silicon, the inks developed by Korgel's team are made up of copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) — sunlight-absorbing nanoparticles that are 10,000 times thinner than a strand of hair…"
The ultimate dream of solar researchers is nearer reality. (click to enlarge)
"…[A University of Texas at Austin research] team envisions printing such inks in a newspaper-like process…So far, they have developed solar-cell prototypes that can convert 1 percent of the sunlight that hits the cell into electricity…[and belive the concept will be commercial if they get to 10 percent, something they see as possible within 3-to-5 years]…"
How much is a bottle of sun? (click to enlarge)
"The prospect of painting these inks onto a rooftop or building is not far-fetched…In addition, the inks are semi-transparent, and so could some day be used to develop windows that double as solar cells…
"The research, which was published in a recent issue of the Journal of the American Chemical Society, was funded by the National Science Foundation, the Welch Foundation and the Air Force Research Laboratory."