Graphene — The New Solar Cell Breakthrough

 Graphene — The New Solar Cell Breakthrough

We have been using solar energy for thousands of years. And we havebeen generating electricity with solar energy for decades. And many newtechnologies are developed to help us use the energy more effectively.

If you will pay attention to solar industry, you may have heard about Graphene. It is a new type of solar cell which is a one-atom-thickplanar sheet of sp2-bonded carbon atoms that are densely packed in ahoneycomb crystal lattice. It is basic structural element of some carbon allotropes including graphite, carbon nanotubes and fullerenes. So,that is to say, the Graphene should be lighter and have betterflexibility comparing to the past silicon solar panel. Some solarequipment such as solar lighting, solar water heater etc. will get rid of the heavy weight of large solar panel. Is that true? Let’s see it.

A southern California University team has come up with what could bethe alternative new breed of economical and flexible solar cells. Forsome decades now, organic photovoltaic cells (OPV) have been acclaimedas the new solar cell prototypes and extolled for their light weight,flexible substrates, low cost and easy manufacturability. Research isnow being done on them.

The most unique aspect of the OPV cell devise is the transparentconductive electrode. This allows the light to react with the activematerials inside and create the electricity. Now graphene/polymer sheets are used to create thick arrays of flexible OPV cells and they are used to convert solar radiation into electricity providing cheap solarpower.

The Advantages of Graphene:

The flexibility of OPVs gives these cells additional advantage bybeing operational after repeated bending unlike the Indium-Tin-Oxidecells. Low cost, conductivity, stability, electrode/organic filmcompatibility, and easy availability along with flexibility givegraphene OPV cell a decidedly added advantage over other solar cells.

The Disadvantages of Graphene:

The efficiency of converting sunlight into electricity becomes muchlower (about 10 times lower) than the former solar panel. So it isdifficult to generate enough power for equipments. So seems that it will take us really long period before we could see great amount of solar street lights with Graphene rather than Solar Panel.

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