Breakthrough in Thin-Film Solar Cells
Kyle Maxey posted on October 11, 2013 | 8142 views

graphene, solar cell, electronics, solar, germany, HZBResearchers in Germany have used graphene to make a breakthrough in thin-film solar cell design.

Since its isolation in 2004, graphene has been lauded as a super-material.  Made of a one-atom thick sheet of carbon; graphene is extremely strong. It has remarkable versatility and shockingly good electrical properties.

All of these factors combine to make graphene a wonder candidate for use in advanced electronics. Additionally, since the material is only one-atom thick it is almost completely transparent, which gives it the potential use in solar cells.

However, there is a catch.

Because graphene is so thin, scientists have long believed that the material’s electrical performance would be hindered when compressed into a stratum of electronics.  Recently Dr. Marc Gluba and Prof. Norbert Nickel of Helmholtz Zentrum Berlin (HZB) decided to find out whether this notion was true.

After laying a single sheet of graphene upon a glass substrate and coating it with a think film of silicon, the two researchers found that the change in graphene’s electrical properties was negligible. In fact, the graphene composite “showed that the mobility of charge carriers within the embedded graphene layer is roughly 30 times greater than that of conventional zinc oxide based contact layers.”

Both Dr. Gluba and Prof. Nickel believe their grapheme-coating technique can be scaled up without many problems.  They also see its potential for creating high performance electronics and solar cells.

Although they’ve only just recently published their research Prof Nickel commented, “Our thin film technology colleagues are already pricking up their ears and wanting to incorporate it."

Image Courtesy of HZB

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