Spray-On Solar Cells Are Finally Viable Technology

The concept of spray-on solar panels has existed for some time, but it's been hard to make them efficient. Now, a team of scientists from Sheffield University is using a new material to create a solar paint that could change that.

The researchers have claimed for for a while that this should be possible. But now they've finally managed to develop a spray-painting process capable of applying thin layers of perovskite, a promising new material for solar cells, onto surfaces.

Perovskite is calcium titanium oxide mineral, and it's caught the attention of solar researchers because it's inexpensive, like the materials used in organic solar cells, but absorbs light nearly as well as silicon. The new spray technique allows the scientists to apply layers of the mineral at rates high enough for large-volume manufacturing.

The results are fairly impressive, too. The best perovskite cells can achieve an efficiency as high as 19 percent; cells currently created used the new spaying method achieve 11 percent. So, while there's some way to go, these cells far out perform spray-coated solar technology from the past, which achieved efficiencies in the single digits.

The possibilities of such technology are, of course, incredible: imagine electric cars coated in the stuff to keep batteries trickle charging, or solar panels made in awkward shapes to fit the forms of strange and unusual architectural designs. Finally, those things are going to be possible. [Royal Society of Chemistry via University of Sheffield via Engadget]