According to article, " Notre Dame heralds paint-on solar cells...", Notre Dame scientists have developed a nanotech paste (more like like a paint), that contains quantum dots of titanium dioxide, which when coated with cadmium sulphide or calcium selenide and then mixed with water and alcohol, can conduct electricity.
[Nanotechnology is the study and application of extremely small (microscopic) things. It can be used across all the science fields, such as chemistry, biology, physics, materials science, and engineering].
This paste is then painted on to an electrode which is held in place by ordinary office tape.
All these components are then sealed using a heat gun and a solution added and sandwiched with another electrode, to create the solar cell.
Please read the above article for more details.
When light is shone on the solar cell, electricity is generated.
Now, the efficiency of these first generation solar cells is said to be about 1%, versus the 10% efficiency now being had with solar panels, but they cost a minute fraction of what solar panels cost.
However, the Notre Dame scientists say that there is much more room for improvement in the efficiency of these solar cells.
(Update: Here's some more research into the efficiency of solar cells that should pique your interest!)
If these scientists can get this right, I see a tremendous breakthrough for the use of solar cells in the Caribbean and in other countries with an abundance of sunlight.
Countries whose residents now need government help to buy solar panels, due to the expense of these panels.
It is also imperative that North America and other developed countries in Europe and the East, also take an active interest in enabling solar cell research.
Because if scientists can improve the efficiency of electricity generated by solar cells, this dependence on expensive Middle East and own-country oil would be diminished.
Thus completely reversing the recessionary tendies now happening in these countries' economies. (For all these countries, over half of their import bill is spent on oil).
The big question, though, is the politicians, many of whom are funded by big oil companies.
Citizens of these countries would have to strongly lobby their governments in order to make them pay attention to using solar cell technology to decrease their countries' oil import bill.
People, especially businesses, it's an election year in most of your states, maybe, just maybe, this matter of solar cell research should go on your ballot, no? :)
(I would like to thank DrWurm for the use of his Flickr inset photo above of organic solar cells being grown in the Polymer Lab at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo,USA).
1) Article, "Notre Dame heralds paint-on solar cells, wants to smear your home with its goop (video)" by Zachary Lutz, Engadget, December 25,2011.
2) Article, "NREL Scientists Report First Solar Cell Producing More Electrons In Photocurrent Than Solar Photons Entering Cell", NREL Newsroom via bx.BusinessWeek.com, December 15,2011