Solar panels are a classic that's hard to mess with, but giant arrays beg the question whether it would be easier to just paint photovoltaics directly onto surfaces. Leveraging advancements in thin, flexible solar technology development, researchers have been working on making solar paint happen for real. Two years ago University of Notre Dame scientists experimented with a paste-like paint dubbed Sun-Believable that can generate electricity when sunlight hits it.
"The titanium oxide cells now being used to make dye-sensitized solar cells with efficiencies greater than 10 percent could be incorporated into paint," Kalejs said. He compared that to what's being done with window glass, where transparent window solar cells are being used on building facades.
And this year, scientists at at the University of Manchester and National University of Singapore combined graphene with atom-thin layers of metal to produce a solar-powered coating that could be painted onto buildings.