Jorge Chapa

PAINT-ON SOLAR CELLS

by , 07/22/07

painted solar cells, solar panels, cheap solar panels, sustainable power, green power, electricity

In the future you might painting your home not with standard paint, but rather, with a nice coating of energy-generating solar cells. In one of the most interesting developments in solar panel technology so far, researchers at New Jersey Institute of Technology, directed by Somenath Mitra, claim to have developed a way to create a solar cell that can be painted on flexible plastic sheets.

The findings were presented in a paper for the Journal of Materials Chemistry. In the paper, they describe how using a combination of carbon nanotubes complex and carbon Buckyball molecule they can create a series of snake-like molecular structures. The sunlight excites the polymer backing, which in turn causes it to release electrons.

One of the curious properties of a Buckyball molecule is that it catches the electrons, though it can’t achieve a flow of them. When linked to a nanotube, the Buckyball transfers the electron as though it were a simple copper cable, thus generating electricity. Researchers hope to turn this procedure into a simple and cheap way for consumers to install solar cells in their houses.

“Someday homeowners will even be able to print sheets of these solar cells with inexpensive home-based inkjet printers. Consumers can then slap the finished product on a wall, roof or billboard to create their own power stations.” said Somenath Mitra.

+ New Jersey Institute of Technology report

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28 Comments

  1. dcpandassociates January 14, 2009 at 10:41 pm

    I am a painting contractor and would like to learn more about the products. I would be even willing to run test programs and participate in any research and or development.

  2. tualatinchris November 24, 2008 at 3:27 am

    With the new presidential administration coming on board, I’d like to see this project well funded as part of the energy policy, hopefully to speed its development and implementation.

  3. AlanPHunter October 21, 2008 at 5:18 am

    I’d love to see a follow up to this story to find out how successful the BuckyBall molecules that are sent down the nanotube have been. It seems that BuckyBall molecules could change the face of more than just solar energy technology.

  4. mainmac July 20, 2008 at 4:18 pm

    Curt:
    As of July 2008, the naitonal average electricity price per kilowatt is 9 cents, much higher in some states. In California it\’s 12 cents:

    http://www.neo.ne.gov/statshtml/115.htm

    Also where \’Time of Day\’ rates are available, the actual rates that solar will be replacing are much higher, I would bet 25% overall would be common.

  5. adrian June 17, 2008 at 5:49 am

    Just a couple of questions i would like Somenath to answer.

    Can you mix this product to create a coloured paint?? If so you could create a green home with some arty effects!

    I would also like to know how much the Product will be selling for and how long it will take untill it is ready for sale.

    As i live in Singapore it takes a while to get things like the iPhone so i hope it won’t take so long as i really want to use it!!!

  6. babuni47 April 13, 2008 at 9:36 pm

    I am intersted to be u r contact in India

  7. Curt March 26, 2008 at 5:02 pm

    Nano solar is the company that is developing the ink for solar printing but the math isn’t accurate. If it cost $1/ watt then the pay back time for that energy would be close to 14 years. The power companys today will charge $.07 for a thousand watts of electricity. So the cost for solar power is about 14 times more. The technology just can’t compete with dirt cheap fossil fuels currently.

  8. ' + title + ' - ' + bas... March 24, 2008 at 3:20 pm

    [...] gettin’ my pink on today after reading about a new eco-solar-technology—solar cells painted on building products. According to a team from Swansea University this type of technology will soon be coming to a [...]

  9. Inhabitat » Paint... March 24, 2008 at 6:20 am

    [...] But what if the solar panel was an integral part of every building? What if solar cells could be painted on building products? Well, according to a team from Swansea University this type of technology will soon be coming to a [...]

  10. um December 21, 2007 at 8:49 am

    just paint the the whole city with it. ya… everything may be blackish greenish but no more destroying our environment? Guess that means our trees wont turn blackish greenish.

  11. Ian MacLatchie November 13, 2007 at 1:11 pm

    Better still … there are miles and miles of road that is exposed to sunlight all day long… paint the damn roads with the stuff. Solar energy will end up wherever the roads do!! Hell make the roads power the cars!

  12. Law September 29, 2007 at 11:29 pm

    They have been talking about this for two years now. Have we actually seen the stuff? Have we heard any actual time line on when it MIGHT i stress the word might be on shelves. Has anyone ever actually seen the stuff at all??? How much do you think oil companies would pay to have them shut up and forget what they discovered?

  13. Paint that absorbs sola... July 27, 2007 at 1:45 pm

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  15. Jenn July 26, 2007 at 8:57 pm

    Exciting stuff – There is also a Canadian Researcher from Toronto who has come up with a method to priduces micro dot solar cell which could also be painted on to thin plastic sheets. The solar cells are made from made from olive oil and two other chemicals. The use infra-red light instead of visible light to generate the solar power and are more efficient that traditional solar power. I think the Research name is Ted Sargent.

  16. Technology » Blog... July 26, 2007 at 5:23 pm

    [...] The quest to builder a better, cheaper solar cell continues on, as researchers at the New Jersey Institute of Technology have developed a new type of solar cell that can be printed or painted onto flexible plastic sheets. Unlike traditional silicon cells, the print-on cells are composed of carbon nanotubes and buckyballs, which results in substantially cheaper manufacturing costs and greater efficiency, since apparently carbon nanotubes are terrific conductors. The scientists seem pretty pumped about the potential for their tech, with lead researcher Somenath Mitra quite confidently proclaiming that we’ll all soon be printing “sheets of these solar cells with inexpensive home-based inkjet printers.” Yeah, we’re sure there won’t be any shenanigans going on in that ink cartridge market. [Via Inhabitat] [...]

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  26. Tyler July 23, 2007 at 3:57 pm

    I’ve been hearing about these “paint-on” solar cells for a couple years now. When is someone going to spend some serious money to expedite this research? Imagine a solar-painted city powering its whole county, ahh the things dreams are made of!

  27. Michael V. July 23, 2007 at 10:55 am

    Great concept, research and work Somenath!

  28. unBlog » Blog Arc... July 23, 2007 at 6:03 am

    [...] “Someday homeowners will even be able to print sheets of these solar cells with inexpensive home-based inkjet printers. Consumers can then slap the finished product on a wall, roof or billboard to create their own power stations.” -Somenath Mitra, Director [www.inhabitat.com/2007/07/22/paint-on-solar-cells] [...]

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