The biggest impediment to adopting renewing energy sources has got to be the cost. I mean no individual can afford solar plant power in their backyard, right?
In fact, a recent scientific breakthrough could allow you to do just that. In what is quite possibly the coolest concept to come outta Jersey since The Sopranos, researchers at the New Jersey Institute of Technology have developed inexpensive solar cells that can be painted or printed on flexible plastic sheets.
Whereas conventional solar cells are made from expensive purified silicon, organic solar panels made from polymers are way more affordable. “The process is simple,” says lead researcher Professor Somenath Mitra. Yeaaahh? It goes something like this: carbon nanotubes — which are 50 times smaller than a human hair — are combined with tiny carbon Buckyballs to form snake-like structures. Adding sunlight to the polymers allows the Buckyballs to grab the electrons, although it can’t achieve flow until it’s combined with the nanotubes. The resulting flow of electrons is what generates electricity.
While I have no clue what any of that means scientifically, what it means for us the consumer is this: “Someday homeowners will be able to print sheets of these solar cells with inexpensive home-based inkjet printers,” says Mitra, in an obvious desire to make even the Buckyball-challenged understand the concept. “Consumers can then slap the finished product on a wall, roof or billboard to create their own power stations.”
Sounds good to me. I can’t wait for the day I can paint my own house in the future’s hottest shade — solar.