Soon, 'solar paint' could power your home appliances.
The paste, which is made of hi-tech "quantum dots", can be put onto any surface and produce electricity from the sun.
The dots are semi-conducting crystals that are between two and 10 nanometres in diameter and are mixed into dye that looks like normal paint.
In tests they were just one percent efficient, less than one 10th the efficiency of a standard solar cell, but researchers are convinced that the rate will improve in the future.
The paint has prompted speculation that it could one day be applied to the side of homes to turn the entire property into a giant hi-tech "sun trap".
Scientists from the University of Notre Dame used nano-sized particles of titanium oxide and covered them in either cadmium sulphide or cadmium selenide.
The paste was created by putting this into a mixture of water and alcohol.
They noticed that when it was put onto a conducting material and light was shone onto it, electricity was generated.
The discovery has been praised because it is so simple to set up and required little more than a paint brush, office tape and a heat gun to make it work.
"We want to do something transformative, to move beyond current silicon-based solar technology," the Daily Mail quoted Prashant Kamat, the lead researcher as saying.
"By incorporating power-producing nanoparticles, called quantum dots, into a spreadable compound, we've made a one-coat solar paint that can be applied to any conductive surface without special equipment.
"The goal is to prepare a solar paint that has long shelf life. 'In our laboratories we have tested the performance for a few days to a week, and we find it stable as long as it is stored in the dark," he added. (ANI)
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