There is no longer the need to place unattractive solar panels on your roof to produce electricity from the sun. Nanotechnology has developed a paint-like plastic that can be applied to any surface when exposed to the sun will produce electricity. The only way to force this into society is through zoning codes and tax incentives. Developers need to see the light through building codes and low-rate bank loans so that all new housing developments incorporate the technology.
Read below two articles about the material:
Spray-On Solar-Power Cells Are True Breakthrough
for National Geographic News
January 14, 2005
Scientists have invented a plastic solar cell that can turn the sun’s power into electrical energy, even on a cloudy day.
The plastic material uses nanotechnology and contains the first solar cells able to harness the sun’s invisible, infrared rays. The breakthrough has led theorists to predict that plastic solar cells could one day become five times more efficient than current solar cell technology.
Like paint, the composite can be sprayed onto other materials and used as portable electricity. A sweater coated in the material could power a cell phone or other wireless devices. A hydrogen-powered car painted with the film could potentially convert enough energy into electricity to continually recharge the car’s battery.
The researchers envision that one day "solar farms" consisting of the plastic material could be rolled across deserts to generate enough clean energy to supply the entire planet’s power needs.
"The sun that reaches the Earth’s surface delivers 10,000 times more energy than we consume," said Ted Sargent, an electrical and computer engineering professor at the University of Toronto. Sargent is one of the inventors of the new plastic material.
"If we could cover 0.1 percent of the Earth’s surface with [very efficient] large-area solar cells," he said, "we could in principle replace all of our energy habits with a source of power which is clean and renewable."
Painting on Solar Cells – the nano cell solution [UC Berkeley]
source: Eric Scigliano MIT technology review 2003.2
The sun may be the only energy source big enough to wean us off fossil fuels. But harnessing its energy
depends on silicon wafers that must be produced by the same exacting process used to make computer
chips. The expense of the silicon wafers raises solar-power costs to as much as 10 times the price of
fossil fuel generation—keeping it an energy source best suited for satellites and other niche applications.
Paul Alivisatos, a chemist at the University of California, Berkeley, has a better idea: he aims to use
nanotechnology to produce a photovoltaic material that can be spread like plastic wrap or paint. Not only
could the nano solar cell be integrated with other building materials, it also offers the promise of cheap
production costs that could finally make solar power a widely used electricity alternative.
Alivisatos’s approach begins with electrically conductive polymers. Other researchers have attempted to
concoct solar cells from these plastic materials (see “Solar on the Cheap,” TR January/ February 2002), but
even the best of these devices aren’t nearly efficient enough at converting solar energy into electricity. To
improve the efficiency, Alivisatos and his coworkers are adding a new ingredient to the polymer:
nanorods, bar-shaped semiconducting inorganic crystals measuring just seven nanometers by 60
nanometers. The result is a cheap and flexible material that could provide the same kind of efficiency
achieved with silicon solar cells. Indeed, Alivisatos hopes that within three years, Nanosys—a Palo Alto,
CA, startup he cofounded—will roll out a nanorod solar cell that can produce energy with the efficiency of