Paint with SOLAR nano-particles? A bright idea.

Solar PAINT cost and development

Sun Source Solar Brokers here to report on solar paint!

Research from the University at Buffalo in New York has come up with an exciting new development concerning the familiar idea of liquid paint solar cells. This development is comprised of this idea of a paintable liquid, but their idea was to include nanoparticles of metal, to bring down costs and make solar paint more competitive.

Bringing Down The Cost Of Solar Paint

The team in Buffalo is currently developing a type of organic photovoltaic material that is constitutionally similar to plastic, and which differs from traditional solar cells comprised of silicon. The primary difference is that this organic photovoltaic material is based on hydrocarbon molecules known as polymers.

There are advantages and disadvantages to organic solar cells. They cannot compare to inorganic solar cells in areas of efficiency, but they are far more inexpensive to produce, and are produced using simpler and more cost effective procedures. Furthermore, organic photovoltaic material could be used in anything from building surfaces, as solar paint, to being used in place of glass in windows for solar windows.

Enhanced Solar Paint

However offsetting only accomplishes so much; nanoparticle enhancement is where true improvements can be made.
The research team claims that for organic solar cells to be competitive or successful in the solar market they need to achieve 10 percent of the efficiency of traditional cells, and to accomplish this they’re looking into a growingly important technology, plasmonics.
The field of plasmonics concerns how the reaction of light and metal create electricity, with electromagnetic waves from light and free electrons from metal vacillate between the metals and semiconductors. One way to induce this plasmonic effect is with nanoparticles of metal, or nanostructures, which results in more light being caught in the solar cell.
Also, a research team at Stanford University has been developing plasmonic enhanced solar material, and another team at UC-Santa Barbara is developing a free floating plasmonic device, which hypothetically could convert water into hydrogen using solar energy.

Solar Paint at the same cost as ordinary paint?

There are problems with the idea that one could simply use solar paint instead of normal paint and not have any additional expenses. The University at Buffalo recently came out with a press release with the headline “Solar panels as inexpensive as paint?”, however this was not what the researchers necessarily intended when working on their solar paint.

The idea is that conventional solar systems and solar cells cost far too much for people who own property, normal people, to be able to afford them, and that this will likely be the case for a long time; but could solar paint be as inexpensive as normal paint?
The goal of the researchers is to come up with a solar paint that is certainly more affordable than a traditional solar cell, and could be used as an upgrade for homes and properties. Not necessarily as inexpensive as normal paint, but not excessively more expensive.  While this is an optimistic forecast, one has to take into account how quickly the cost of photovoltaic modules has been falling (since 2008 it has gone down 80 percent), so there’s a decent chance that this could be accomplished.

DIY solar power for everyone

It’s important to take a wider look at the applications and take into consideration the total cost of installed, traditional solar power rather than a single solar cell.


Article written by Jennifer Coleman of Sun Source Solar Energy Brokers, providing solar brokering, brokerage, and solar energy consulting services in Santa Rosa, Marin, Sonoma, Napa, Solano and San Francisco Counties. For more information, please visit


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