Everyone loves the idea of converting the sun's rays into electricity, but no one really wants to pay the $3-per-watt that it costs to produce. The folks at Nanosolar Inc., San Jose, Calif., think they have brought the price down to $1-per-watt with their thin-film solar panels that recently went into production. NanoSolar's products have attracted the interest of the entire green industry, and a group of high-profile investors, including Sergey Brin, Google's co-founder.

Nanosolar CEO Martin Roscheisen, (photo right) said his panels, which began shipping last month, make the company, “the world's lowest-cost solar panel and the first solar manufacturer capable of profitably selling solar panels at as little as 99 cents a watt” and that the panels deliver five times the current of any other thin-film panels.

Nanosolar has figured out how to print solar cells on thin sheets of aluminum with a printing press. Its technology is much more efficient than the other technologies because it doesn't waste as much material in the manufacturing process. Popular Science magazine likes the panels, too, and last year awarded Nanosolar with its “Top Innovation of the Year Award.” Also in the winner's circle in this always-interesting awards competition was another electrical product — the EverLED by leddynamics, an LED lamps that fits in existing fluorescent sockets.