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Published on April 29th, 2010 | by Tina Casey


Shrinky Dinks Sparks Another Giant Nanostep Forward for Low Cost Solar Power

April 29th, 2010 by  

Shrink Solar LLC is marketing a solar film that can enhance conventional solar panels The nanotech company Shrink Nanotechnologies, Inc. has just announced that it has formed a subsidiary, Shrink Solar LLC, in order to market a solar film that could be used to retrofit windows and other elements of existing buildings to function as mini solar power stations.  The technology can also be applied to conventional silicon crystal solar panels to boost efficiency.


Instead of relying on mirrors or other conventional concentrating solar technology, Shrink Solar uses nanocrystals to soak up parts of the light spectrum that conventional silicon crystal solar panels don’t absorb.  And just imagine, we have that classic children’s toy from the Disco era,  Shrinky Dinks, to thank for  this…

Shrink Solar LLC and the Shrinky Dink Connection

It’s quite simple, really.  According to the company’s website, the founder of Shrink NanoTechnologies, Dr. Michelle Khine, used Shrinky Dinks as the inspiration for the diagnostic chip at the heart of Shrink  Nanotechnologies — no wait, she actually used actual Shrinky Dink material and put it in an actual toaster oven, so forget the inspiration, this really is all about real Shrinky Dinks.  Dr. Khine printed a channel design onto virgin Shrinky Dink material, and when it shrank – which is the whole point of Shrinky Dinks after all – the ink particles pulled together to form ridges.  These ridges created actual channels on a nanoscale.  After the material cooled, Khine used it as a mold.  She layered a flexible polymer onto it, which copied the channels.  The bottom line: no need for expensive high tech equipment when you can pick up a starter kit of Shrinky Dinks and a decent toaster oven for $29.95 from your local Target. Shrink Solar LLC was formed to improve and commercialize the process for the solar energy market.

Shrink Solar, Low Cost Solar, and the End of Oil

If only we knew that a children’s toy and an el cheapo toaster oven could have saved the beleaguered Gulf Coast the heartache and economic devastation of a catastrophic ocean-drilling oil spill which as of this writing is threatening to destroy fishing, oystering and tourist industries to say nothing of habitat destruction.  But now we do know, and if the worst does happen thankfully it could be the last time ever for this type of human-made environmental disaster at least as far as the U.S. can control.  Shrink Solar’s new film is just the latest in a veritable gusher of low cost solar innovations that are at or near commercialization right now including solar paint that can be applied to practically any surface, printable solar ink developed at the University of Texas at Austin, solar “tattoos” that can lower the cost of silicon solar cell production, and solar “curtains” that can be integrated into building walls.  Drill baby drill u r so 2000 and late.

Image: Windows by Laenulfean on flickr.com. 
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About the Author

specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.

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