Nanotechnology Now





Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


DHgate

Home > Press > Stanford scientists build the first all-carbon solar cell

This shows the new all-carbon solar cell consists of a photoactive layer, which absorbs sunlight, sandwiched between two electrodes.

Credit: Mark Shwartz / Stanford University
This shows the new all-carbon solar cell consists of a photoactive layer, which absorbs sunlight, sandwiched between two electrodes.

Credit: Mark Shwartz / Stanford University

Abstract:
Stanford University scientists have built the first solar cell made entirely of carbon, a promising alternative to the expensive materials used in photovoltaic devices today.

Stanford scientists build the first all-carbon solar cell

Stanford, CA | Posted on October 31st, 2012

The results are published in the Oct. 31 online edition of the journal ACS Nano.

"Carbon has the potential to deliver high performance at a low cost," said study senior author Zhenan Bao, a professor of chemical engineering at Stanford. "To the best of our knowledge, this is the first demonstration of a working solar cell that has all of the components made of carbon. This study builds on previous work done in our lab."

Unlike rigid silicon solar panels that adorn many rooftops, Stanford's thin film prototype is made of carbon materials that can be coated from solution. "Perhaps in the future we can look at alternative markets where flexible carbon solar cells are coated on the surface of buildings, on windows or on cars to generate electricity," Bao said.

The coating technique also has the potential to reduce manufacturing costs, said Stanford graduate student Michael Vosgueritchian, co-lead author of the study with postdoctoral researcher Marc Ramuz.

"Processing silicon-based solar cells requires a lot of steps," Vosgueritchian explained. "But our entire device can be built using simple coating methods that don't require expensive tools and machines."

Carbon nanomaterials

The Bao group's experimental solar cell consists of a photoactive layer, which absorbs sunlight, sandwiched between two electrodes. In a typical thin film solar cell, the electrodes are made of conductive metals and indium tin oxide (ITO). "Materials like indium are scarce and becoming more expensive as the demand for solar cells, touchscreen panels and other electronic devices grows," Bao said. "Carbon, on the other hand, is low cost and Earth-abundant."

For the study, Bao and her colleagues replaced the silver and ITO used in conventional electrodes with graphene - sheets of carbon that are one atom thick -and single-walled carbon nanotubes that are 10,000 times narrower than a human hair. "Carbon nanotubes have extraordinary electrical conductivity and light-absorption properties," Bao said.

For the active layer, the scientists used material made of carbon nanotubes and "buckyballs" - soccer ball-shaped carbon molecules just one nanometer in diameter. The research team recently filed a patent for the entire device.

"Every component in our solar cell, from top to bottom, is made of carbon materials," Vosgueritchian said. "Other groups have reported making all-carbon solar cells, but they were referring to just the active layer in the middle, not the electrodes."

One drawback of the all-carbon prototype is that it primarily absorbs near-infrared wavelengths of light, contributing to a laboratory efficiency of less than 1 percent - much lower than commercially available solar cells. "We clearly have a long way to go on efficiency," Bao said. "But with better materials and better processing techniques, we expect that the efficiency will go up quite dramatically."

Improving efficiency

The Stanford team is looking at a variety of ways to improve efficiency. "Roughness can short-circuit the device and make it hard to collect the current," Bao said. "We have to figure out how to make each layer very smooth by stacking the nanomaterials really well."

The researchers are also experimenting with carbon nanomaterials that can absorb more light in a broader range of wavelengths, including the visible spectrum.

"Materials made of carbon are very robust," Bao said. "They remain stable in air temperatures of nearly 1,100 degrees Fahrenheit."

The ability of carbon solar cells to out-perform conventional devices under extreme conditions could overcome the need for greater efficiency, according to Vosgueritchian. "We believe that all-carbon solar cells could be used in extreme environments, such as at high temperatures or at high physical stress," he said. "But obviously we want the highest efficiency possible and are working on ways to improve our device."

"Photovoltaics will definitely be a very important source of power that we will tap into in the future," Bao said. "We have a lot of available sunlight. We've got to figure out some way to use this natural resource that is given to us."


Other authors of the study are Peng Wei of Stanford and Chenggong Wang and Yongli Gao of the University of Rochester Department of Physics and Astronomy. The research was funded by the Global Climate and Energy Project at Stanford and the Air Force Office for Scientific Research.

This article was written by Mark Shwartz of the Precourt Institute for Energy at Stanford University.

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Mark Shwartz

650-723-9296

Copyright © Stanford University

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

Stanford breakthrough heralds super-efficient light-based computers: Light can transmit more data while consuming far less power than electricity, and an engineering feat brings optical data transport closer to replacing wires May 29th, 2015

Donuts, math, and superdense teleportation of quantum information May 29th, 2015

OSU researchers prove magnetism can control heat, sound: Team leverages OSC services to help confirm, interpret experimental findings May 29th, 2015

Two UCSB Professors Receive Early Career Research Awards: The Department of Energy’s award for young scientists acknowledges UC Santa Barbara’s standing as a top tier research institution May 29th, 2015

Graphene

Dr.Theivasanthi Slashes the Price of Graphene Heavily: World first & lowest price – Nano-price (30 USD / kg) of graphene by nanotechnologist May 26th, 2015

Haydale Named Lead Sponsor for Cambridge Graphene Festival May 22nd, 2015

Record high sensitive Graphene Hall sensors May 21st, 2015

Simulations predict flat liquid May 21st, 2015

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

OSU researchers prove magnetism can control heat, sound: Team leverages OSC services to help confirm, interpret experimental findings May 29th, 2015

Physicists precisely measure interaction between atoms and carbon surfaces May 28th, 2015

Linking superconductivity and structure May 28th, 2015

Chemists discover key reaction mechanism behind the highly touted sodium-oxygen battery May 28th, 2015

Nanotubes/Buckyballs/Fullerenes

Global Carbon Nanotubes (CNT) Market Expected To Reach USD 3.42 Billion By 2022 May 29th, 2015

SouthWest NanoTechnologies Introduces AgeNT™ Transparent Conductor System at SID Display Week, Booth #543 May 28th, 2015

Physicists precisely measure interaction between atoms and carbon surfaces May 28th, 2015

Basel physicists develop efficient method of signal transmission from nanocomponents May 23rd, 2015

Discoveries

Stanford breakthrough heralds super-efficient light-based computers: Light can transmit more data while consuming far less power than electricity, and an engineering feat brings optical data transport closer to replacing wires May 29th, 2015

Donuts, math, and superdense teleportation of quantum information May 29th, 2015

OSU researchers prove magnetism can control heat, sound: Team leverages OSC services to help confirm, interpret experimental findings May 29th, 2015

New technique speeds nanoMRI imaging: Multiplexing technique for nanoscale magnetic resonance imaging developed by researchers in Switzerland cuts normal scan time from two weeks to two days May 28th, 2015

Announcements

Stanford breakthrough heralds super-efficient light-based computers: Light can transmit more data while consuming far less power than electricity, and an engineering feat brings optical data transport closer to replacing wires May 29th, 2015

Donuts, math, and superdense teleportation of quantum information May 29th, 2015

OSU researchers prove magnetism can control heat, sound: Team leverages OSC services to help confirm, interpret experimental findings May 29th, 2015

Two UCSB Professors Receive Early Career Research Awards: The Department of Energy’s award for young scientists acknowledges UC Santa Barbara’s standing as a top tier research institution May 29th, 2015

Military

OSU researchers prove magnetism can control heat, sound: Team leverages OSC services to help confirm, interpret experimental findings May 29th, 2015

Linking superconductivity and structure May 28th, 2015

This Slinky lookalike 'hyperlens' helps us see tiny objects: The photonics advancement could improve early cancer detection, nanoelectronics manufacturing and scientists' ability to observe single molecules May 23rd, 2015

New Antibacterial Wound Dressing in Iran Can Display Replacement Time May 22nd, 2015

Energy

Technology for Tomorrow’s Market Opportunities and Challenges: LetiDays Grenoble Presents the Possibilities: June 24-25 Event Includes Focus on IoT-Augmented Mobility and Leti’s Latest Results on Silicon Technologies, Sensors, Health Applications and Smart Cities May 27th, 2015

Physicists solve quantum tunneling mystery: ANU media release: An international team of scientists studying ultrafast physics have solved a mystery of quantum mechanics, and found that quantum tunneling is an instantaneous process May 27th, 2015

Fine-tuned molecular orientation is key to more efficient solar cells May 26th, 2015

DNA Double Helix Does Double Duty in Assembling Arrays of Nanoparticles: Synthetic pieces of biological molecule form framework and glue for making nanoparticle clusters and arrays May 25th, 2015

Solar/Photovoltaic

Fine-tuned molecular orientation is key to more efficient solar cells May 26th, 2015

Efficiency record for black silicon solar cells jumps to 22.1 percent: Aalto University's researchers improved their previous record by over 3 absolute percents in cooperation with Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya May 18th, 2015

Wearables may get boost from boron-infused graphene: Rice U. researchers flex muscle of laser-written microsupercapacitors May 18th, 2015

Random nanowire configurations increase conductivity over heavily ordered configurations May 16th, 2015

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