Spray-On Solar Cells, Printed Like a Newspaper Being Developed by Univ. of Texas Researchers

printing press photo

photo: Florian Boyd via flickr.

The idea of sprayed-on or painted-on solar cells isn't entirely new -- Spark Solar in Australia and steelmaker Corus Group are among the companies developing the technology. Now you can add another member to that list. LiveScience looks at work being done by Brian Korgel at the University of Texas, Austin: Korgel's team is developing a new nano-ink process, which he hopes may one day become a standard manufacturing method for solar panels.

The idea is to make a solution of sunlight absorbing copper iridium gallium selenide (CIGS) nanoparticles (10,000 times thinner than human hair) and then spray paint them onto a substrate to make a panel, in perhaps a newspaper-like printing procedure.

Efficiency Really Has to be Improved
Sounds cool? Here's the catch (at the moment): Right now the team has only made prototypes that work at 1% efficiency -- and until they reach 10% efficiency, at least, the potential for commercial development will have to wait, the researchers say.

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