Development of a low-cost plastic infrared photovoltaic material by a group at the University of Toronto could herald a major step forward for solar power, its creators believe, by enabling solar-powered systems to also harvest infrared emissions. The material embeds various-size nanoparticles-or quantum dots-in a polymer suspension. "We have designed a plastic device that is physically flexible-you could even paint it onto things by putting it in a solution," said Toronto EE professor Ted Sargent. "However you deposit it, after drying you have a nice, thin, smooth film that provides the basis for an electronic device." Sargent's group had already demonstrated plastic infrared emitter chips, but the new results are detectors. Sargent believes large-area plastic infrared photovoltaics could become a major marketplace within 10 years, depending on how low their cost goes.