Researchers at the New Jersey Institute of Technology have developed an inexpensive solar cell that can be painted or printed on flexible plastic sheets.
"Someday homeowners will even be able to print sheets of these solar cells with inexpensive home-based inkjet printers. Consumers can then slap the finished product on a wall, roof or billboard to create their own power stations," said lead researcher and author Somenath Mitra, PhD, professor and acting chair of NJIT's Department of Chemistry and Environmental Sciences.
"We foresee a great deal of interest in our work because solar cells can be inexpensively printed or simply painted on exterior building walls and/or roof tops. Imagine some day driving in your hybrid car with a solar panel painted on the roof, which is producing electricity to drive the engine. The opportunities are endless. "
The solar cell Mitra helped develop uses carbon nanotubes, which are 50,000 times smaller than a human hair.
One nanotube can conduct a current better than any conventional wire.
Mitra and his research team took the carbon nanotubes and combined them with fullerenes, which trap electrons, to form snake-like structures.