The fiber optic cables, each one two to three times the width of a human hair, would be installed on the roof of a house, car or any other structure.
Only the very tip of the cables would be exposed to the outside environment.
Light enters the tip of the fiber and travels to the end. The light is absorbed and turned into electrical energy along the way.
Once the light reaches the end of the fiber, it actually bounces back, giving the zinc oxide another chance to absorb any light missed during the first pass.
The fibers can be cut to any length depending on the needs of the user. A 10-centimeter (four-inch) fiber would conservatively generate about 0.5 volts.
Powering a 10-watt light bulb would require about 10,000 fibers, each about 10 centimeters (four inches) long. That might sound like a lot of fibers, but it's about the same size as a small handful of human hair.
Although the fibers are small, they aren't particularly efficient. Right now, they convert about 3.3 percent of all the light that enters them into electricity. Some silicon-based solar cells can absorb 30 percent of light.