Graphene boosts efficiency of next-gen solar cells
The coolest new nanomaterial of the 21st century could boost the efficiency of the next generation of solar panels, a team of Michigan Technological University materials scientists has discovered. Graphene, a two-dimensional honeycomb of carbon atoms, is a rising star in the materials community for its radical properties. One of those properties is electrical conductivity, which could make it a key ingredient in the next generation of photovoltaic cells, says Yun Hang Hu, a professor of materials science and engineering.
Dye-sensitized solar cells don't rely on rare or expensive materials, so they could be more cost-effective than cells based on silicon and thin-film technologies. But they are not as good at converting light into electricity.
In dye-sensitized solar cells, photons knock electrons from the dye into a thin layer of titanium dioxide, which relays them to the anode. Hu's group found that adding graphene to the titanium dioxide increased its conductivity, bringing 52.4 percent more current into the circuit.
"The excellent electrical conductivity of graphene sheets allows them to act as bridges, accelerating electron transfer from the titanium dioxide to the photoelectrode," Hu said.
The team also developed a comparably foolproof method for creating sheets of titanium dioxide embedded with graphene. It first made graphite oxide powder, then mixed it with titanium dioxide to form a paste, spread it on a substrate (such as glass) and then baked it a high temperatures.
"It's low-cost and very easy to prepare," said Hu. But not just any recipe will do. "If you use too much graphene, it will absorb the light in the solar cell and reduce its efficiency," he said.
Hu presented a talk on their work, "Graphene for Solar Cells," at the US-Egypt Joint Workshop on Solar Energy Systems, held March 12-14 in Cairo. It was funded by the American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund and the National Science Foundation.
- UCLA team reports scalable fabrication of self-aligned graphene transistors, circuitsFri, 17 Jun 2011, 15:34:04 EDT
- Unique properties of graphene lead to a new paradigm for low-power telecommunicationsSun, 15 Jul 2012, 15:02:01 EDT
- New material approach should increase solar cell efficiencyTue, 23 Apr 2013, 16:19:03 EDT
- Water could hold answer to graphene nanoelectronicsTue, 26 Oct 2010, 11:23:23 EDT
- Rice discovery points way to graphene circuitsFri, 5 Aug 2011, 20:41:43 EDT
- Graphene Boosts Efficiency of Next-Gen Solar Cellsfrom Science DailyWed, 25 Apr 2012, 12:32:22 EDT
- Graphene boosts efficiency of next-gen solar cellsfrom Science BlogTue, 24 Apr 2012, 18:20:09 EDT
- Graphene Boosts Efficiency of Next-Gen Solar Cellsfrom Newswise - ScinewsTue, 24 Apr 2012, 17:30:23 EDT
- Graphene boosts efficiency of next-gen solar cellsfrom PhysorgTue, 24 Apr 2012, 6:00:40 EDT
Latest Science NewsletterGet the latest and most popular science news articles of the week in your Inbox! It's free!
Learn more about
Check out our next project, Biology.Net
From other science news sites
Popular science news articles
- UC Davis engineers create on-wetting fabric drains sweat
- Not just blowing in the wind: Compressing air for renewable energy storage
- Amazon River exhales virtually all carbon taken up by rain forest
- Protein study suggests drug side effects are inevitable
- Bed sharing leads to fivefold increase in risk of cot death for babies whose parents do not smoke
No popular news yet
No popular news yet
- Stem cell transplant restores memory, learning in mice
- 2 landmark studies report on success of using image-guided brachytherapy to treat cervical cancer
- Researchers discover mushrooms can provide as much vitamin D as supplements
- Cutting back on sleep harms blood vessel function and breathing control
- Study: Low-dose aspirin stymies proliferation of 2 breast cancer lines