Paint on Solar Cells

Solar panels have been around for years, however the installation and cost have been one of the downfalls of this technology, especially for home owners and construction companies. However there are several options for paint-on solar cells. Swansea University has developed a paint-on solar cell that can be applied to steel during the manufacturing process. Another group of scientists have created spray-on solar cells made with a plastic composite that can collect both the visible and infrared spectrum.

Swansea University’s paint-on solar cells have the same capability as silicon solar panel, and is based on dye-sensitised molecules of titanium dioxide pigment.

“The pigment catalyzes the release of electrons from the substrate towards the electrolyte layer which collects them, thus delivering power into an electronic circuit before returning to the titanium dioxide pigment.” [Source: Softpedia]

According to the scientists at Swansea, the paint is better at catching low-light radiation, making it good for countries like the UK. The university is working in conjunction with Corus Colours (the leading steel producers in the UK), to produce solar-painted flexible steel at a rate of 30-40m2 a minute. Currently, Corus produces 100 million square meters of steel a year. Should all of the produced steel have solar paint on them, they can generate as much electricity as 50 wind farms [Source: Swansea]. By integrating solar cells into the very infrastructure of buildings and cars, Corus and Swansea can change the way many people view construction and automotive companies.

Besides Swansea, other scientists have also introduced solar paint. A group of researchers, including Ted Sargent, have created spray-on solar paint. Created from a plastic material, this composite can be sprayed onto other materials and used as portable electricity. While using plastic to capture solar energy is not new, this particular composite is one of the few solar cells that captures both visible and infrared light [Source: National Geographic]. One of the main advantages of the spray-on paint versus the paint only applied to steel is that there is more portability in the electricity. For example: articles of clothes sprayed with the composite can harness the energy and wirelessly charge electronics. These solar cells could also significantly reduce the cost of buying solar energy and displace power plants that emit greenhouse gases, like coal factories.

The advancement in technology has greatly increased the accessibility and decreased the cost of sustainable energy. With the addition of two different types of solar paint, we can continue towards a more sustainable future.
Jasmine Greene

Love This? Never Miss Another Story.


Cathy Noftz
Cathy Noftz4 years ago

~Great informative article~Nice to know that we can use s spray on that has solar cells to capture energy~

Steve Howe
Steve Howe4 years ago

Paint all wind turbines, and all coal,oil and nuclear power stations?
Radical idea: we in the uk need more power in the winter so paint all the trees :-) In the summer they won't generate so much because the leaves will get in the way but when it's winter the branches will be bare and so generate more electricity!
Yes, I am aware of the problem that would produce for lots of wildlife - it's not a serious suggestion, but painting all the walls and roofs in the uk would provide a huge proportion of our needs.

Judith Emerson
Judith Emerson4 years ago

Wow! i'm ready!

Vivianne Mosca-Clark

I had heard that when the wind blades were slowed down, the birds didn't die so much. And the idea of painting solar on things sounds great to me. Now.....what do they do with the left over solar paint? Cleaning rags brushes, etc.

Darci J.
dorothy J.4 years ago

Better yet, paint it onto doggie sweaters, ladies' hats..., winter mittens, bicycle helmets - brain stormin' now!

Darci J.
dorothy J.4 years ago

I can imagine a good application of this technology: paint it onto fabric which is made into cases for electronic gadgets-phones, ipads, etc.

Barbara T.
Barbara Talbert4 years ago

This is an exciting way to produce clean energy (or almost clean except for producing the paint and having to dispose of it later). Wonder if the power generated by the roof has to be directed into batteries for storage? If all the garage roofs had them maybe we could plug in our cars at night and drive them in the morning.

Alice Diane
Alice C.5 years ago

Thank you for this information ~ Happy February !

gerlinde p.
gerlinde p.5 years ago

sounds fantastic, thanks for the article.

Walter G.
Walter g.6 years ago

Evolution will eventually remedy birds colliding with the blades.
What is more unsightly, windmills or darkened cities?
BTW, Evolution will not eventually take care of recreational light aircraft and parachutists from collision with the blades.