A group of researchers from the University of Toronto have come up with a new and cheaper way for people to install solar energy on their roofs.
The technique, called sprayLD (with LD standing for "layer deposition"), is applied by spraying solar cells onto thin, flexible surfaces that home owners can then install on rooftops, according to Discovery News. Layer deposition refers to a manufacturing process in which a surface is coated one atom-thickness at a time.
The process begins by adding small particles of solar-sensitive colloidal quantum in a solution. The team then used a spray nozzle commonly used in steel mills to spray the quantum dot solution onto a film and other flexible surfaces.
The team found in their experiments that the solar panels produced with sprayLD were as efficient as other thin panels made with methods that required more money and labor, Discovery News reported.
"My dream is that one day you'll have two technicians with Ghostbusters backpacks come to your house and spray your roof," said Illan Kramer, electrical and computer engineer at the University of Toronto.
Flexible sheets powered by solar energy have other potential uses, like charging smartphones and other electronic devices.
"As quantum dot solar technology advances rapidly in performance, it's important to determine how to scale them and make this new class of solar technologies manufacturable," said Professor Ted Sargent, Kramer's supervisor and vice dean, research in the Facility of Applied Science & Engineering at the university, Daily News Now reported.
"We were thrilled when this attractively manufacturable spray-coating process also led to superior performance devices showing improved control and purity."
The results of the research were published in the latest issues of Advanced Materials and Applied Physics Letters.