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(Left) Solar paint prototype. (Right) How the Dye Solar Cell works. (via Dyesol)

 

Everyone has had this idea at some point, solar paint. During a research project discussion about a decade ago, I said to paint the roof tops of every building creating a solar network. It was not chosen, an inspired idea taking the back-burner. It is said, good ideas and great ideas are often delineated by simply following through with the project. The following is a great one.

 

École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) Professor Michael Grätzel, an internationally recognized chemistry professor from Switzerland, has invented a highly flexible and efficient type of solar cell that can be applied as paint to various types of surfaces. The  Grätzel cell, as it is called is a Dye Solar Cell (DSC) that uses the principles of photosynthesis to harness energy.

 

DSCs work by a mixture of titanium-dioxide and photosensitive ruthenium dye. When photons collide with the dye the electrons become ejected and create a current due to an electron concentration gradient. DSCs have been around for a while, but the solar cell paint has not.The design creates a new highly flexible and efficient product. Low cost allows for a great performance/price ratio that along with its versatility makes it a competitive against traditional solar cells. It could be applied to moving vehicles or objects with curved surfaces that regular solar cells would not permit.

 

Because of his outstanding research and contributions to the solar energy field, he has been awarded the 2012 Albert Einstein World Award of Science. The Interdisciplinary Committee of World Culture Council is referring to it as the most significant breakthrough in clean energy.

 

Michael Grätzel's score card:

900 research papers written

60 reviews and book chapters

50 patents invented or co-invented

Take inspiration and beat his record.

 

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