Solar paint instead of panels?
Researchers at the University of Notre Dame have recently developed a solar paint. The thought is that this paint could eventually replace solar panels, making solar energy far more affordable.
The paint is made of "quantum dots" and it can be painted on any surface to produce power from the sun. The little dots are semiconducting crystals which are 2-10 nanometers in diameter. They're mixed into dye and it actually looks like normal paint!
Here's how they did it: The scientists at the University of Notre Dame used nano-sized particles of titanium oxide and then covered them in cadmium sulphide or cadmium selenide. They made a paste by putting the particles into a mixture of water and alcohol. When the entire mixture was put on a conducting material and light was shone on it, the electricity was generated from it.
They still have ways to go in terms of effectiveness, though. In testing, they were less efficient than solar panels - less than 1/10 the efficiency of a standard solar cell. Researchers do believe that will improve in the future.
People are now hoping that this paint could be used to paint the exterior of houses to turn the entire home into a "giant high-tech sun trap!" It would be inexpensive, easy to setup, and it would blend in with the home unlike solar panels. How cool would that be?