If the very idea of a spray-on film that can turn windows into solar collectors sounds too good to be true, think again. After all, Japan's University of Tokyo did come up with a Wi-Fi-blocking paint, while a number of companies including Konarka have developed solar cells that sit within the window.
Pushing the envelope on solar panel technology is Norwegian company EnSol, which has patented a prototype thin film solar cell technology designed to be sprayed onto any glass surface. In fact, plans are afoot for a thicker solution to coat exterior walls or be used in the form of "clip-together" solar roof tiles. If this technology works as planned, it could take away the need to plonk big solar panels on rooftops, particularly in industrial settings.
Unlike traditional silicon-based solar cells, EnSol's film uses metal nanoparticles embedded in a transparent composite matrix. Ensol's collaboration with the University of Leicester's Department of Physics and Astronomy could have the product seeing the commercial light of day by 2016.