Solar Cell Breakthrough In ‘Spray On’ Technology

A Japanese firm has announced a major breakthrough in solar technology in the shape of a spray on solar cell prototype.

In the wake of the country’s nuclear crisis, Japan is aiming to optimize its use of environment-friendly energy sources, Mitsubishi’s Chemical Division has developed spray on solar cells which can be sprayed or painted onto buildings, clothes and vehicles. The breakthrough is hugely significant because it will mean that the places where the sun’s energy can be harnessed is virtually limitless.

What sets these spray on solar cells aside from existing solar cell technology is that they  utilize carbon compounds which – when dried and solidified – act as semiconductors and generate electricity when they are exposed to sunlight. At less than 1 millimetre thick, this means they are lighter, smaller and more flexible, compared to the majority of the solar cell technology currently on the market, which features crystalline silicon sandwiched between glass sheets.

The first to develop a working spray on solar cell prototype, Mitsubishi has plans to team up with car manufacturers to develop a prototype car coated with the new solar cells which should, after being exposed to daylight for a couple of hours, should be capable of travelling 10 km on the amount of solar electricity generated.

At 10.1%, scientists have some way to go to match the typical 20% of light energy into electricity conversion rate achieved by standard solar cells. But Mitsubishi is aiming to improve the efficiency rate and hopes to achieve 15% by 2015.

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