In a discovery sure to help the development of solar panel and display technology, scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have engineered transistors that they can airbrush onto a surface like spray paint.

Unlike most computer chips, which use transistors made of silicon, the NIST spray-on computer chip utilizes an organic semiconductor, called poly(3-hexylthiophene), or P3HT. By spraying the P3HT over a deposited circuit architecture of gold and silicon, the NIST team can lay down vast swaths of electronics quickly and cheaply.

The NIST scientists admit that translating this breakthrough into a concrete new technology will prove challenging. However, once the technique is perfected, it can result in very significant price drops for both solar panels and large display screens.