Watching paint dry just got interesting. That’s because AkzoNobel is developing a hi-tech coating which paints itself onto surfaces by harnessing energy from daylight.

Once a small amount has been manually applied, the pioneering coating uses a process similar to photosynthesis. By converting light energy into chemical energy, the paint spreads itself over the chosen surface.

The secret lies in the light-loving nanotechnology embedded in the pigments, which acts like an invisible paint brush. This is controlled and “switched off” by a special “containing tape” used to mark out the selected area.

Still germinating in the company’s labs, the highly innovative coating is being specifically designed for external use on parts of buildings and structures that can be hard to access – making maintenance safer and easier.

“We’ve taken a leaf out of nature’s book by using renewable energy to power our paint,” explains AkzoNobel scientist Opal Lofri, who is leading the project. “Our innovation embraces all areas of product development, including application, and the fact that we’re mimicking nature makes it extra special. You could say that our paint grows on you!”

Expected to become a shining example of innovation at AkzoNobel, the Synthesystem technology takes various factors into account such as the intensity of the daylight and the size of the area being coated.

“There’s still some way to go in terms of perfecting the formula, but initial trials have been promising,” adds Lofri. “It all grew from the seed of an idea and now it seems anything is possible. Who knows how far we can go?”