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First 100% Carbon Solar Cell
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First 100% Carbon Solar Cell

Researchers at Stanford University of Stanford have created the first solar cell produced entirely of carbon. This technological advance opens up opportunities for getting cheap and practical alternatives for sometimes expensive materials that we are using at the moment for making current solar cells.

-"carbon" as a natural material possesses the possibility to offer great features at a very low-cost - says Mr.Zhenan Bao, a professor of chemical engineering at Stanford.

"As far as we are aware, this probably is the first example of a functional solar cell whose components are completely made exclusively of carbon," he added.

Unlike the relatively rigid silicon solar panels that now "decorate" a number of roofs and fields of solar farms, new carbon panels could be made in the form of a thin foil on which solution containing carbon material is totally applied on the film as color. For this reason it is not unrealistic to expect that the thin carbon photo-cells could be totally applied to the surface of any building, window or car, where would generate electricity.

The new way of making these cells with coating represents an opportunity to dramatically cut the cost of producing, because there is no need for expensive machinery and materials for obtaining them.

New solar cells are completely produced of photo-active layer that absorbs sunlight and is preciously situated in the middle of par of electrodes. In existing thin layered solar cells, the electrodes are produced from a metal and indium tin oxide.

"Substances like indium are very rare and becoming increasingly more expensive with the growing demand of photovoltaic panels, touch-screen displays and other electronic parts. Carbon, for instance, is cheap and is plentiful everywhere on Earth", says Bao.

Because carbon nano-tubes are totally characterized by excellent electrical conductivity and ability to absorb light, metal and indium tin oxide are fully replaced by graven and nano-tubes. Also, the active layer is also replaced with carbon nano-tubes and carbon molecules with a size of one nanometer, which have the shape of a soccer ball.

However, there is a lack of carbon solar cells because at the moment they absorb light only in the small vicinity of the infrared part of the spectrum, leading to low efficiency of conversion of solar energy by only 1%. But Prof. Bao is optimistic and believes that with improved materials and advanced procedure of preparation, the efficiency will increase drastically. To this cause, the research team from Stanford immediately began experimenting with a great number of carbon nano-materials.

However, as they are now, carbon solar cells have an advantage over conventional silicon. They are used especially in extreme conditions, because they are very durable and remain stable up to temperatures of 600° C.


Street Talk

Makes you wonder where we will be in 10 years. great article!

Reply
  about 1 decade ago
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