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Science Technology

Solar Cells Made From a Spreadable Nanoparticle Paste 66

An anonymous reader writes "Researchers at Notre Dame have created a nanoparticle paste, which acts as the main ingredient in solar cells that are very easy to construct. In a short video clip, they can be seen assembling a functional solar cell with little more than a heat gun, tape, and some binder clips. The paste is made from a mix of t-butanol, water, and a mix of cadmium selenide with cadmium sulfide nanoparticles. So far, the experimental devices are not nearly as efficient as standard solar cells, but they were just developed. If the materials were slightly less toxic, it might even be a project that kids could do at home."
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Solar Cells Made From a Spreadable Nanoparticle Paste

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  • "If the materials were slightly less toxic, it might even be a project that kids could do at home."

    It better be like Play-doh.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Mmmm. Spreadable nanoparticle paste... Delicious.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 22, 2011 @05:52PM (#38465184)

    We can now make ineffective solar cells from horrendously toxic materials, this is a step up from our previous efforts to produce ineffective solar cells using non-toxic and mildy toxic materials.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 22, 2011 @05:55PM (#38465226)

    I build this kit as a solar cell demo for my school a few weeks ago. The article has a very different chemistry, but the assembly is almost identical.


  • Could be better (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 22, 2011 @05:57PM (#38465256)

    Solar paint is fine, but there's a whole lot of energy that could be gathered with solar pavement. Just think of all those blacktop parking lots, if those had a 1% solar energy conversion you could probably make mini-malls power grid neutral.

    • While not quite using paint or parking lots, the Germans embraced Solar power ten years ago [wired.com] and have certainly not looked back.

      • by emilper ( 826945 )

        yes, have embraced solar power, are spending tens of billions Euro every year, and have under 5% of their consumption supplied from renewables ...

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Let's not be disingenuous, sounds like a pretty good deal pro-rated long term. Not only that, but isn't 5% of their energy consumption already tens of billions of Euro a year?

          • by emilper ( 826945 )

            a large part of those billions are just the subsidies, while the tax wedge in Germany is above 60% ... meaning out of what an employers spends with an employee, more than 60% goes to taxes ; yes, sounds like a pretty good deal, but only if you're selling solar power equipment.

            • Ahhh, yes, the old 60% scare.

              Funny, they also have full, all-inclusive healthcare, generous retirement packages, pensions from their employer and the state, a minimum of 30 days paid vacation and a 38-hour work week. Oh, and because of all those subsidies, they industrial sector is quite safe from the downturn and making lots of money, their banks didn't crash and their economy only took a ding because everyone ELSE crashed and burned.

              Yeah, that 60% is sooooo painful.

              I'm sure all the German tourists in Asi

              • by emilper ( 826945 )

                They also some 25% unemployment, most of it camouflaged by one of the Hartz-es, complain that the standards of living are going down, sold their some of the industrial sector ... and some of the banks, too ... to the Russians and the Chinese, and their banks did not crash yet only because the Greeks did not declare bankruptcy.

                Oh, and the health care is not all-inclusive since the 80s ... their media blames the decline on the money spent on integrating East Germany, but the decline began some 10 years before

  • by Ironchew ( 1069966 ) on Thursday December 22, 2011 @05:59PM (#38465268)

    "Ah ha!" a Chinese government spokesperson reportedly said. "The only way to save the planet is to melt our cadmium-laden kids' jewelry into a toothpaste-like substance. Bet you never saw that coming."

  • by wierd_w ( 1375923 ) on Thursday December 22, 2011 @05:59PM (#38465280)

    Slightly? This is cadnium we are talking about. Its a freaking heavy metal! (And not the rock and roll kind!)

    What's next, mercury funtime playsets?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I miss mercury funtime playsets. As well as "My First Millinery"

    • What's next, mercury funtime playsets?

      Actually, that's not next, it's already happened. My dad often tells stories about playing with mercury as a kid. Then we learned how that was a bad idea...

      • What's next, mercury funtime playsets?

        Actually, that's not next, it's already happened. My dad often tells stories about playing with mercury as a kid. Then we learned how that was a bad idea...

        I hate how much this is going to make me sound old, but... When I was a kid thermometers were glass, filled with mercury. We were expected to be smart enough not to bite them while they were in our mouth in order to take our temperature. And yes, it was rather fun to play with. Of course I don't recall anyone being stupid enough to snort it either.

      • Well, it's christmas, and china has to up the ante.

        Everything old is just waiting to be new again.

        I guess a mercury filled kinetic toy set is just waiting to happen.


        "Metal racers! Race your tiny liquid metal drops down spiral tracks! Place obstacles and traps, and watch your racers grow!"

        (Think cross between a mercury droplet labyrinth, and a hotwheels playset, where the droplets pool together to escape traps and obstacles.)

        Amusingly, it would probably be a very entertaining toy.

  • by PortHaven ( 242123 ) on Thursday December 22, 2011 @06:04PM (#38465360) Homepage

    Peanut Butter and Solar Celly Sandwiches anyone?

  • Cadmium? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by glorybe ( 946151 ) on Thursday December 22, 2011 @06:08PM (#38465402)
    Can this material keep from leeching out into the environment? How about a fire? Would we have cadmium spreading all over the place? I guess if one gets enough cadmium solar cells are no longer of much use at all.
    • by Thing 1 ( 178996 )

      I guess if one gets enough cadmium [...]

      Mmm, Cadmium Creamy Eggs... Oh sorry, wrong holiday.

  • Can I fill a toaster with this goo and make it dance using only good vibration rays?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    How do all of these groovy new high-tech nanoparticles used in batteries, solar panels, and almost everything these days differ from asbestos, that nanoparticle we all have come to know and love?

  • This is the same group at Notre Dame who made those "delicious" solar cells from donuts and tea a few years back. Nice work, guys!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bVwzJEhMmD8 [youtube.com]

  • This brings me back to the April, 1977 issue of (I think) Popular Electronics that had a recipe for creating solar cells at home using "3'7 Dimethylpentadecon-2-ol propionate". At the time, I was 13 and spent quite a bit of time bothering my science teaching trying figure out what 3'7 Dimethylpentadecon-2-ol propionate was and how to get some. Years later, I happened to look at the May issue and it turns out it was an April Fools' joke. Even at that time, I did laugh out loud. Anyway, if you want to see
  • with all those discoveries on solar cells, making them cheaper and easier to produce... why in the world are they still so expensive?
    • They are a lot cheaper than they were last year. Go to sunelec.com and pick up some for bargain basement prices. (no I do not have any relationship with that site, but that is one where the $1/watt cells can actually be bought. It's also a good site for figuring return on investment)

  • but we all know it's really just Vegemite.

    This also answers the question about how toxic this is [slashdot.org]. The answer is "very-- except to Australians, they've built up an immunity."

  • Definitely don't do this at home. Cadmium Selenide is not something you really want to be around if you're not in a lab environment. I would feel fine having undergraduates working in a lab do this, but I wouldn't demo it at a high school, for example.

    If you do want to build a solar cell like this at home, try the raspberry solar cell (google it). Very simple to build, uses more common ingredients and tools, doesn't put out as much power, but still educational and fun.

  • Help them build [diyhpl.us] an AFM [wikipedia.org] with that nifty 3D printer they like so much.

When a fellow says, "It ain't the money but the principle of the thing," it's the money. -- Kim Hubbard