While sustainable energy’s global impact increases (as solar electricity generating possibilities, i.e., photovoltaic, thermal, & wind, add to the nearly completely used hydroelectric ones, which also store energy), the need for the materials that enable this, looms as a growing problem. Indeed, sustainability, implying long life-span, runs up against the mantra of continuing quantitative growth and consumerism, which adds to the science and technology (S&T) challenge of re-turning to repairable devices, starting with designs that make it practical. The pecking order is from repair to healing to self-repair to self-healing, where the last ones are mostly relevant for materials that form the components device. This challenge is reminiscent of what faced renewable energy, which disappeared with the industrial revolution, but rebounded from science fiction to real-world achievements over the past half century. The additional concern that if ‘things’ last too long creativity will suffer, is outside the realm of (today’s) exact S&T.
I will focus on a few cases where materials for light ←→ electricity interconversion can fix their damage, autonomously, with emphasis on materials for photovoltaics, where we try to learn design rules from these few cases.