Researchers at the University of Notre Dame have developed a 'solar
paint' that could be slapped on the outside of a house to help generate
power for the devices inside.
|The 'Sun-Believable' paint uses semiconducting nanoparticles to produce energy (image: nd.edu)|
The 'Sun-Believable' paint uses semiconducting nanoparticles to produce
energy - and while it's nowhere near as efficient as the current
standard, it's inexpensive and easy to produce in large quantities.
"We want to do something transformative, to move beyond current
silicon-based solar technology," says professor Prashant Kamat, who led
"By incorporating power-producing nanoparticles, called quantum dots,
into a spreadable compound, we've made a one-coat solar paint that can
be applied to any conductive surface without special equipment."
The team achieved this using nano-sized particles of titanium dioxide,
which were coated with either cadmium sulfide or cadmium selenide. The
particles were then suspended in a mixture of water and alcohol to
create a paste.
When the paste was brushed onto a transparent conducting material and exposed to light, it generated electricity.
"The best light-to-energy conversion efficiency we've reached so far is
one percent, which is well behind the usual 10 to 15 percent efficiency
of commercial silicon solar cells," explains Kamat.
"But this paint can be made cheaply and in large quantities. If we can
improve the efficiency somewhat, we may be able to make a real
difference in meeting energy needs in the future."
Kamat and his team also plan to study ways to improve the stability of the new material.