Quantum Dots Power New Solar Paint
"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.”