Researchers at Indiana University led by chemist Liangshi Li has found a way to incorporate carbon sheets in the solar modules, an efficient method to manufacture solar panels at lower costs and also non-toxic.
Carbon is indeed an abundantly available and cheap, which in the form of graphene, it would be able to absorb a wide range of frequencies of light. Basically, graphene is shown by a single sheet of carbon, one atom thick. Note that a stack of graphene is actually graphite, a material well known among sportsmen.
The size of the graphene sheet would have its importance in the formation of the solar panel. This must be large enough to collect photons, without being in excess. In fact, using too large sheets of graphene could result in their becoming sticky and fused, blocking passage to the flow of electricity.
To resolve this problem, Li and colleagues trapped graphene atoms in a hexagonal cage made of carbon and hydrogen to prevent attaching one sheet to another.
To test the efficiency of their solar panels based on graphene, the research team used titanium dioxide, a substance in which electrons can move and be transferred. The results showed that the sheets absorb a significant amount of light in the visible to near infrared, from 200 to 900 nanometers, with an absorption maximum height of 591 nanometers.
Now that scientists have managed to collect energy through solar panels made from carbon, they will try to reconstruct graphene sheets whose ends are fitted with titanium dioxide. This combination will improve the efficiency of solar cells will then convert the harvested energy into electricity.
However, this second step has not yet been validated and is subject to numerous questions. “The absorption of energy from the sun is a mandatory step ahead,” Li said. “The stage of energy conversion into electricity is another. We believe we have a good start.” has he added.