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Solar Paint

Capturing and using the sun’s rays has always been an enthralling task for researchers and recent advancements in the electronics industry has brought a great deal of interest into the field of solar.

A research team from Notre Dame University led by Prashant Kamat has created one such form of solar energy conversion where they introduce us to “solar paste” which will replace solar panels in the future. By simply painting the outside of a house with this special solar paste/paint electricity can be generated from the sun which would potentially power the home appliances inside.

This paste is alcohol based consisting of materials like cadmium selenide, cadmium sulfide and titanium oxide which are essentially nanoparticles. The paste is then annealed on a conducting glass surface and they are sandwiched by an electrolyte solution and a graphene composite electrode.

A power conversion efficiency exceeding 1% has been obtained from solar cells constructed using the simple conventional paint brush approach under ambient conditions. Further improvements are necessary to develop strategies for large area and all solid state devices.

“The best light-to-energy conversion efficiency we’ve reached so far is 1 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.”“That’s why we’ve christened the new paint,” he adds. Kamat and his team also plan to study ways to improve the stability of the new material.

The good news is that if the technology becomes commercial and more stable it will have tremendous market appeal as paints are simple and compact compared to solar panels which are generally rigid.

The bad news is that the conversion rate is very low. The team has admitted that it is 10 to 15% less than commercial silicon solar cells.

 

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