Saturday, April 12, 2008

Cheaper Solar Cells.

From MIT's Technology Review:

Graphene--a flat single layer of carbon atoms--can transport electrons at remarkable speeds, making it a promising material for electronic devices. Until recently, researchers had been able to make only small flakes of the material, and only in small quantities. However, Rutgers University researchers have developed an easy way to make transparent graphene films that are a few centimeters wide and one to five nanometers thick.

Thin films of graphene could provide a cheap replacement for the transparent, conductive indium tin oxide electrodes used in organic solar cells. They could also replace the silicon thin-film transistors common in display screens. Graphene can transport electrons tens of times faster than silicon, so graphene-based transistors could work faster and consume less power. (See "Graphene Transistors" and "Better Graphene Transistors.")

In fact, Rutgers materials science and engineering professor Manish Chhowalla and his colleagues used their graphene films to make prototype transistors and organic solar calls. In a recent Nature Nanotechnology paper, they showed that they can deposit the transparent films on any substrate, including glass and flexible plastic. Chhowalla says that the method could be adapted to a larger scale to coat "meters and meters of substrates with graphene films," using roll-to-roll processing, a technique being developed to make large flexible electronic circuits....MORE