Elon Musk continues to dazzle…
Tesla just launched their Solar Roof product line, an amazing example of embedding electronics (in this case solar photovoltaic cells) directly into architectural materials (in this case roofing tiles).
Tesla is displaying a fantastic, innovative use of optical design to ensure that the tiles look like standard (albeit deluxe) roofing materials, such as slate or terra cotta, while still optimizing the sunlight that the solar cells receive. Musk mentions the incorporation of color layers, hydrographic printing, and micro louvers to create the appearance of the tiles.
Photovoltaic cells are fundamentally made nearly the same way as LED’s — grown in semi-conductor fabs. The engineering challenges they face to seal these, connect these, and ensure durability are the exact same as it would be to create lighting tiles that glow.