A team of UK researchers are developing a new type of paint with dye-sensitised solar cells that can be painted directly onto steel sheets.
Conventional photovoltaic panels use silicon to absorb sunlight. The solar paint uses dye molecules attached to the titanium oxide pigments commonly used in paint.
Silicon is quite expensive and short in supply. Dye molecules absorb solar energy less efficiently than silicon, but the low cost combined with the new application opportunities offsets the lower efficiency.
The solar paint is still in development, and the research team hopes to have the first commercial release ready in 2011.