A power producing solar paint is coming up to replace the traditional silicon based solar panels. A team of researchers at the University of Notre Dame has developed a kind of paint that you can put on your walls to produce power from sun. The paint dubbed, Sun-Believable makes use of semiconducting nano-particles to generate energy and it can be applied on any conductive surfaces.
Can you imagine a day you get power from the paint you put on the outside of your home? Well, then you won’t have to erect large silicon based solar panels on your roof or anywhere else. Just painting your roofs and walls with the solar paint, you can harvest power from the sun and its heat. The idea behind the project, which is funded by the Department of Energy's Office of Basic Energy Sciences, is commendable and it is still in progress for further perfection and stability.
The research to develop the power generating paint was headed by Prashant Kamat, Professor of Science in Chemistry and Biochemistry. Mr. Kamat, also an investigator in Notre Dame’s Center for Nano Science and Technology (NDnano) says the research was inspired by extreme desire to do something transformative and go beyond the existing silicon solar panel technology.
For the production of the solar paint, researchers integrated power generation nano-particles, dubbed quantum dots into a paint-able compound, which can be put on any surface without using any special equipment. It makes the solar paint so like the paint we apply on our walls and roofs. It can be applied in the same way; but some electronic parts should need to be set up collect and store the power harvested by the nano-particles in the paint.
In effort to develop the compound, the researchers concentrated on nano-particles of titanium dioxide, and they were coated with either cadmium selenide or cadmium sulfide. To create the paint-able paste, the particles were suspended in a water-alcohol mixture. They brushed the paint onto a transparent conducting material, which produced electricity when exposed to sunlight.
But, the light-to-energy conversion efficiency of the paint-able solar cells is quite low compared to the efficiency of commercial silicon solar panels. It is one percent to the 10 to 15 percent of the traditional solar cells, Mr. Kamat says. There needs more research to amplify the light-to-energy conversion efficiency of the on-paint solar cells. But, this paint can be produced in large quantities for cheap price.