Electronics manufacturing could, in the future, make greater use of biologically engineered molecules, according to researchers at the University of Washington (UW).
The UW's new Molecular Engineering and Science Institute is looking into a range of different applications for novel molecules custom-built by scientists.
Among them are health benefits such as targeted and timed drug delivery, as well as energy-saving advantages including biomass processing.
But one particular intended application could have an impact on the future of electronics manufacturing.
The team, led by new institute director Dr Pat Stayton, is to look at ways of creating photovoltaic coatings that could turn almost any surface into a solar panel.
"Imagine turning an entire outside wall of your home into a solar collector, or powering your cell phone with light-enhanced batteries," suggests the university.
Professor Alex Jen is specialising in these topics, using organic nanostrucures with inorganic technology to reduce the cost of photovoltaic sheets and even create transparent solar cells that could double as windows.