Researchers at the University of Alberta are developing a new kind of silicon-free, spray-on solar cell, which promises to be much cheaper than more conventional solar cells. The solar cells are flexible enough to roll up and use in such things as window blinds, according to CBC. They can even be applied using spray coaters used for the touching-up of automotive paint.
According to the researchers, the efficiency of the new spray-on cells is currently “not great”, but the team is working on improving it. After more development, researchers think the cells will be able to reach about 7.5% efficiency. This is considerably lower than conventional solar cells, but because they will be able to be made so inexpensively, 7.5% efficiency should be enough to make them commercially competitive.
The cells are apparently very cheap to produce, and the particles can be made into inks or paints. The zinc phosphide nanoparticles, which are just 30 to 40 atoms across, make the resulting cells very light and flexible compared to more traditional solar cells.
To date, only a few small examples of these new solar cells have been made, but the team in Alberta has funding from the Alberta government to develop the research further, in particular, to start applying the spray-on cells to larger surfaces.
Image CC licensed by Jalal Hameed Bhatti