Researchers at the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) have developed a solar cell that can be painted or printed on flexible plastic sheets. Unlike more expensive solar production procedures that require purified silicon, the process developed by the NJIT researchers uses a carbon nanotubes complex.
The research team paired the carbon nanotubes with carbon fullerenes that can trap electrons, and – when combined with sunlight – will force the flow of electrons or current in a fashion similar to that of a copper wire, NJIT explains.
‘The process is simple,’ says lead researcher Somenath Mitra, professor and acting chair of NJIT's department of chemistry and environmental sciences. ‘Someday, homeowners will even be able to print sheets of these solar cells with inexpensive home-based inkjet printers. Consumers can then slap the finished product on a wall, roof or billboard to create their own power stations.’