Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors



Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


android tablet pc

Home > Press > Graphene electrodes for organic solar cells

The structure of graphene, a flexible material made of carbon atoms arranged in a layer just one atom thick, is represented in this diagram. Graphic: Christine Daniloff
The structure of graphene, a flexible material made of carbon atoms arranged in a layer just one atom thick, is represented in this diagram. Graphic: Christine Daniloff

Abstract:
Researchers identify technique that could make a new kind of solar photovoltaic panel practical.

By David L. Chandler, MIT News Office

Graphene electrodes for organic solar cells

Cambridge, MA | Posted on January 7th, 2011

A promising approach for making solar cells that are inexpensive, lightweight and flexible is to use organic (that is, carbon-containing) compounds instead of expensive, highly purified silicon. But one stubborn problem has slowed the development of such cells: Researchers have had a hard time coming up with appropriate materials for the electrodes to carry the current to and from the cells. Specifically, it has been hard to make electrodes using materials that can match the organic cells' flexibility, transparency and low cost.

The standard material used so far for these electrodes is indium-tin-oxide, or ITO. But indium is expensive and relatively rare, so the search has been on for a suitable replacement. Now, a team of MIT researchers has come up with a practical way of using a possible substitute made from inexpensive and ubiquitous carbon. The proposed material is graphene, a form of carbon in which the atoms form a flat sheet just one atom thick, arranged in a chicken-wire-like formation.

An analysis of how to use graphene as an electrode for such solar cells was published on Dec. 17 in the journal Nanotechnology, in a paper by MIT professors Jing Kong and Vladimir Bulović along with two of their students and a postdoctoral researcher.

Graphene is transparent, so that electrodes made from it can be applied to the transparent organic solar cells without blocking any of the incoming light. In addition, it is flexible, like the organic solar cells themselves, so it could be part of installations that require the panel to follow the contours of a structure, such as a patterned roof. ITO, by contrast, is stiff and brittle.

The biggest problem with getting graphene to work as an electrode for organic solar cells has been getting the material to adhere to the panel. Graphene repels water, so typical procedures for producing an electrode on the surface by depositing the material from a solution won't work.

The team tried a variety of approaches to alter the surface properties of the cell or to use solutions other than water to deposit the carbon on the surface, but none of these performed well, Kong says. But then they found that "doping" the surface — that is, introducing a set of impurities into the surface — changed the way it behaved, and allowed the graphene to bond tightly. As a bonus, it turned out the doping also improved the material's electrical conductivity.

While the specific characteristics of the graphene electrode differ from those of the ITO it would replace, its overall performance in a solar cell is very similar, Kong says. And the flexibility and light weight of organic solar cells with graphene electrodes could open up a variety of different applications that would not be possible with today's conventional silicon-based solar panels, she says. For example, because of their transparency they could be applied directly to windows without blocking the view, and they could be applied to irregular wall or rooftop surfaces. In addition, they could be stacked on top of other solar panels, increasing the amount of power generated from a given area. And they could even be folded or rolled up for easy transportation.

While this research looked at how to adapt graphene to replace one of the two electrodes on a solar panel, Kong and her co-workers are now trying to adapt it to the other electrode as well. In addition, widespread use of this technology will require new techniques for large-scale manufacturing of graphene — an area of very active research. The ongoing work has been funded by the Eni-MIT Alliance Solar Frontiers Center and an NSF research fellowship.

Peter Peumans, an assistant professor of electrical engineering at Stanford University, who was not involved in this study, says organic solar cells will probably become practical only with the development of transparent electrode technology that is both cheaper and more robust than conventional metal oxides. Other materials are being studied as possible substitutes, he says, but this work represents "very important progress" toward making graphene a credible replacement transparent electrode.

"Other groups had already shown that graphene exhibits good combinations of transparency and sheet resistance, but no one was able to achieve a performance with graphene electrodes that matches that of devices on conventional metal oxide (ITO) electrodes," Peumans says. "This work is a substantial push toward making graphene a leading candidate."

####

For more information, please click here

Copyright © Massachusetts Institute of Technology

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

'Stealth' nanoparticles could improve cancer vaccines October 1st, 2014

Stressed Out: Research Sheds New Light on Why Rechargeable Batteries Fail October 1st, 2014

New Absorber Will Lead to Better Biosensor: Biosensors are more sensitive and able to detect smaller changes in the environment October 1st, 2014

Graphene chips are close to significant commercialization October 1st, 2014

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

Platinum meets its match in quantum dots from coal: Rice University's cheap hybrid outperforms rare metal as fuel-cell catalyst October 1st, 2014

$18-million NSF investment aims to take flat materials to new heights: 2-D alternatives to graphene may enable exciting advances in electronics, photonics, sensors and other applications October 1st, 2014

Novel approach to magnetic measurements atom-by-atom October 1st, 2014

'Stealth' nanoparticles could improve cancer vaccines October 1st, 2014

Academic/Education

Yale University and Leica Microsystems Partner to Establish Microscopy Center of Excellence: Yale Welcomes Scientists to Participate in Core Facility Opening and Super- Resolution Workshops October 20 Through 31, 2014 September 30th, 2014

Rice launches Center for Quantum Materials: RCQM will immerse global visitors in cross-disciplinary research September 30th, 2014

Biosensors Get a Boost from Graphene Partnership: $5 Million Investment Supports Dozens of Jobs and Development of 300mm Fabrication Process and Wafer Transfer Facility September 18th, 2014

Malvern technology delivers Malvern reliability in multi-disciplinary lab at Queen Mary University London September 9th, 2014

Nanotubes/Buckyballs

Nanoparticles Accumulate Quickly in Wetland Sediment: Aquatic food chains might be harmed by molecules "piggybacking" on carbon nanoparticles October 1st, 2014

Elsevier Publishes New Content on Graphene and Materials Science: Books Discuss Properties and Emerging Applications of Carbon Nanotubes, Graphene and Nanomaterials September 25th, 2014

Future flexible electronics based on carbon nanotubes: Study in Applied Physics Letters show how to improve nanotube transistor and circuit performance with fluoropolymers September 23rd, 2014

Nanotubes help healing hearts keep the beat: Rice University, Texas Children’s Hospital patch for defects enhances electrical connections between cells September 23rd, 2014

Discoveries

Breakthrough in ALD-graphene by Picosun technology October 1st, 2014

Novel approach to magnetic measurements atom-by-atom October 1st, 2014

Nanoparticles Accumulate Quickly in Wetland Sediment: Aquatic food chains might be harmed by molecules "piggybacking" on carbon nanoparticles October 1st, 2014

'Stealth' nanoparticles could improve cancer vaccines October 1st, 2014

Announcements

'Stealth' nanoparticles could improve cancer vaccines October 1st, 2014

Stressed Out: Research Sheds New Light on Why Rechargeable Batteries Fail October 1st, 2014

New Absorber Will Lead to Better Biosensor: Biosensors are more sensitive and able to detect smaller changes in the environment October 1st, 2014

Graphene chips are close to significant commercialization October 1st, 2014

Energy

Platinum meets its match in quantum dots from coal: Rice University's cheap hybrid outperforms rare metal as fuel-cell catalyst October 1st, 2014

New Absorber Will Lead to Better Biosensor: Biosensors are more sensitive and able to detect smaller changes in the environment October 1st, 2014

Production of Filters for Separation of Water from Petroleum Products in Iran October 1st, 2014

Production of Anticorrosive Chromate Nanocoatings in Iran September 27th, 2014

Solar/Photovoltaic

New Absorber Will Lead to Better Biosensor: Biosensors are more sensitive and able to detect smaller changes in the environment October 1st, 2014

University of Electro-Communications research: High density quantum dots for powerful solar cells September 25th, 2014

On the Road to Artificial Photosynthesis: Berkeley Lab Study Reveals Key Catalytic Factors in Carbon Dioxide Reduction September 25th, 2014

Solar cell compound probed under pressure September 25th, 2014

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE



  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More














ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project







© Copyright 1999-2014 7th Wave, Inc. All Rights Reserved PRIVACY POLICY :: CONTACT US :: STATS :: SITE MAP :: ADVERTISE