Mind & Matter


Quantum Dots Power New Solar Paint

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"Sun-Believable" solar harvesting paint. Photo by the Notre Dame Center for Nano Science and Technology.


Increasing concern over future energy scarcity has encouraged scientists to look at many building products for power-harvesting capabilities. One example is solar-harvesting paint, a popular idea based on the simplicity and ubiquity of paint, but one that has been difficult to develop at adequate electrical conversion rates.

Notre Dame's Center for Nano Science and Technology has recently announced an improved formulation of solar paint based on the inclusion of power-generating nanoparticles. “We want to do something transformative, to move beyond current silicon-based solar technology,” states Notre Dame professor Prashant Kamat. “By incorporating power-producing nanoparticles, called quantum dots, into a spreadable compound, we’ve made a one-coat solar paint that can be applied to any conductive surface without special equipment.”

The paint, which has been named "Sun-Believable," offers a conversion efficiency of one percent—a quantity far below the 15 percent conversion rate of commercial solar cells. “But this paint can be made cheaply and in large quantities," says Kamat. "If we can improve the efficiency somewhat, we may be able to make a real difference in meeting energy needs in the future.”



Comments (1 Total)

  • Posted by: Anonymous | Time: 12:59 PM Tuesday, September 17, 2013

    With so many scientists working around the world to solve the solar paint issue it is just a matter of time before an effective product is made and widely used. The real success will come when solar nanoparticles are imbedded in other non painted surfaces such as roofing tiles, parking lots and roadways and accompanied by efficient storage. B. A. Ritzenthaler www.baritzenthaler.com

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About the Blogger

Blaine Brownell

thumbnail image Minnesota-based architect and author Blaine Brownell, AIA, is a self-defined materials researcher and sustainable building adviser. His "Product of the Week" emails and three volumes of Transmaterial (2006, 2008, 2010) provide designers with a steady flow of inspiration—a 21st-century Grammar of Ornament. Blaine has practiced architecture in Japan and the U.S. and has been published in more than 40 design, business, and science publications. The recipient of a Fulbright fellowship for 2006–07, he researched contemporary Japanese material innovations at the Tokyo University of Science. He currently teaches architecture and co-directs the M.S. in Sustainable Design program at the University of Minnesota. His book Matter in the Floating World was published by Princeton Architectural Press in 2011.