Nanotech Research to Make Solar Cells Inexpensive

Various companies are using nanotechnology to develop low-cost solar cells by replacing the expensive semiconductor crystalline starting materials with less expensive materials such as semiconductor nanoparticles or organic molecules.

Nanotechnology also helps lower the expensive high-temperature manufacturing processes used to make conventional solar cells by using less expensive manufacturing methods such as ink jet printing techniques. These companies are working to put solar cells not just on the roof of your house but also in your windows, skylights, and siding.

Incorporating solar cells into buildings is referred to as building integrated photovoltaics (BIPV).

Solar cell companies are working on integrating solar cells into windows. Global Photonic Energy Company created ClearPower technology, which they use to produce almost completely transparent windows that can generate solar power. A thin nanofilm on a window contains several transparent electrical contacts. The film in ClearPower windows absorbs much more light by size than more traditional solar cells, and you can adjust the color of the film.

Konarka Technologies might allow buildings to generate their own power when their Power Plastic is packaged in glass products such as windows and skylights. The product can both capture solar power and protect people inside the house from harmful effects of the sun.

SolarmerEnergy offers plastic solar cells that are easy to install and work well in weaker light. These cells can generate electricity at about 20 percent of the cost of ordinary solar cells and can be built right into building materials.

You will see solar cells incorporated into other portions of buildings than just windows and roofs. At least one company is interested in incorporating its solar cells into garage doors, skylights, walls, decorations, facades, tiles, and shingles.

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