Saturday, December 31st, 2011 at 10:14pm

Paint-on solar cells? How your house’s next coat of paint could become a power generator

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(NaturalNews) Generating a sizable amount of renewable energy to power your home appliances and light fixtures could soon be as simple as giving your house a new coat of paint. Researchers from the University of Notre Dame in Indiana have come up with a novel new type of “solar paint” that utilizes nanoparticles to generate electricity without the need for traditional, silicon-based solar cells or expensive equipment.

Prashant Kamat, John A. Zahm Professor of Science in Chemistry and Biochemistry and an investigator in Notre Dame’s Center for Nano Science and Technology (NDnano), and his team successfully developed a water and alcohol based paint compound they say could change the future of home energy generation. The paint contains electricity-generating titanium dioxide particles coated in either cadmium sulfide or cadmium selenide. When this solution is applied onto a conductive, transparent surface, it generates electricity.

“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,” said Kamat about the paint, which he and his team have dubbed “Sun-Believable.” “If we can improve the efficiency somewhat, we may be able to make a real difference in meeting energy needs in the future.”

At this point, Kamat explains that his team’s solar paint falls somewhat short in the efficiency department, at least when compared to current solar panel technology. Instead of generating at the common ten-to-fifteen percent efficiency rate, solar paint has only been able to generate at about a one percent efficiency rate. But because the paint is far less expensive to produce than solar panels and has a lot of room for future improvements, it may soon become a viable form of energy generation that practically anyone could afford.

Published in the journal ACS Nano, Kamat and his team’s current research on solar paint is just the beginning. The group plans to improve the paint’s energy efficiency rate, and also develop an even more stable paint compound that will apply better to conductive surfaces. The US Department of Energy’s Office of Basic Energy Sciences is funding the research.

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