Based on customer demand, it could be far higher by next year, he said.
Initially, C-Voltaics will sell the coatings to other businesses, although Curran said a consumer product could be in stores as early as next spring.
"We should have a product you could apply to your own garden fence, your own garden wall," he said. No deal with a retailer has been signed.
C-Voltaics received the Young Technology Award at the Commercialization of Micro- and Nanosystems conference in The Netherlands last week, a competition for nanotechnology companies that are less than 10 years old. Judges based their decision on expected return on investment.
C-Voltaics also has been named a finalist for the 2013 Goradia Innovation Prize, which recognizes the best innovations from the Houston Gulf Coast region.
C-Voltaics is a high-profile example of the University's strategy of moving more of its faculty research into commercial ventures.
"The University's strategy for the commercialization of our faculty's discoveries is to identify the most innovative technologies, those that have the greatest potential to benefit society," said Rathindra Bose, vice president for research and technology transfer at UH.
Bose noted that one of the advantages of Curran's work is that the chemicals used are non-toxic. "His discoveries seem to have great potential to meet industry's need for an environmentally friendly material that improves the performance of solar cells," he said.
But the coating will also be used on a wide variety of other materials.
Nigel Alley, a research professor in the UH physics department and a member of Curran's research group, said the fabric coating will last as long as the fabric lasts.
Alley said the coating can be tailored to customers' specifications, depending on how long they require a
|Contact: Jeannie Kever|
University of Houston