Dr Mark Bissett, from Flinders University in South Australia, has developed a solar cell using transparent carbon nanotubes that can be sprayed onto windows.
The solar cell is created by taking two sheets of electrically conductive glass and sandwiching a layer of functionalised single-walled carbon nanotubes between the glass sheets. The nanotube cells can be applied to windows without blocking light, and are flexible enough to be weaved into a range of other materials.
Carbon nanotubes are cheaper and more efficient than silicon-based solar cells. According to Dr Bissett, they could eventually supply much of the electricity used in skyscrapers but the technology is still ten years away from becoming a commercial reality.
Dr Bissett said that "It’s basically like tinting the windows except they’re able to produce electricity, and considering office buildings don’t have a lot of roof space for solar panels it makes sense to utilise the many windows they do have instead".