New system makes spray-on solar panels a reality

Electrical engineers in Canada have developed a new, easy way to add solar panels to flexible surfaces.

Illan Kramer is a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Toronto and IBM Canada’s Research and Development Centre. He and his colleagues found that using tiny, light-sensitive materials called colloidal quantum dots (CQDs) could make spray-on solar cells easy and cheap to manufacture.

Their system, which they call SprayLD, mists film or plastic with a liquid containing CQDs. That film can then be used to coat unusually-shaped surfaces, including vehicles, planes, and outdoor furniture.

In the past, light-sensitive CQDs could only be added to surfaces via a factory assembly line, which was costly, time-consuming, and limited what could be coated. The prototype for Kramer’s system, which was built using a spray nozzle typically found in steel mills and air brushes from an art shop, is much quicker. Kramer’s just published studies in two journals, Advanced Materials and Applied Physics Letters, showing that SprayLD is at least as effective as traditional methods.

Professor Ted Sargent, Kramer’s supervisor at the University of Toronto, says that the university is excited about the new technique’s potential, and Kramer plans to keep working to bring it to market. ‘My dream is that one day you’ll have two technicians with Ghostbusters backpacks come to your house and spray your roof,’ he says. Just as long as they don’t cross the streams.

Image by U.S. Navy/Bill Mesta via Wikimedia Commons.

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Diane Shipley

One thought on “New system makes spray-on solar panels a reality

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