Scientists at Stanford University have made a solar cell entirely out of carbon materials. The group of Zhenan Bao used carbon nanotubes and buckyballs as the active material, and graphene as an electrode. The article was published yesterday in ACS Nano. The advantage to traditional silicon-based solar cells would be that the carbon materials can be coated from solution, eliminating the complex fabrication process. The authors envisage a day when such solar cells will be painted onto walls and windows.
In this application, graphene replaces indium tin oxide (ITO) as a transparent substrate. ITO replacement is one of the most sought-after graphene applications, as it could lead to flexible electronic devices and solar cells. To graphene’s advantage, ITO is getting more expensive as demand for solar cells and touch screens rises. Carbon, a more abundant material than indium and a good electrical conductor, has been receiving a lot of attention as a possible replacement. However, fabrication methods for large volumes of graphene are not quite ready to allow a true revolution to take place.
For more information on the carbon based solar cell, take a look at this great article in Science Daily.
For the most current research in stretchable, flexible electronics and energy devices, visit the Bao group website.