Graphene oxide can be used to make better solar cells

After a careful study, Alexander Morris and André Hurt of the University of Saskatchewan in Canada said that graphene oxide may be used to make solar cells with better performance and more robustness.

Graphene is a two-dimensional structure consisting of a single layer of carbon atoms in a honeycomb grid. It was originally developed by Andre Heim and Konstantin Novoselov of the University of Manchester in 2004. So won the 2010 Nobel Prize in physics. Hutt said: "The graphene is very thin, so it is very transparent; it has very strong electrical conductivity; its texture is very hard; it will not corrode in the air, it will not degrade, and its performance is super stable."

All these characteristics make graphene a good choice for manufacturing solar cells. Its excellent transparency and conductivity may solve two major problems facing solar cells. First, good conductors are needed to convert light into useful energy. Second, solar cells also need to be transparent, allowing light to pass through.

At present, most solar cells on the market use indium tin oxide and a non-conductive glass protective layer. Hutt said: "Indium is very rare, so it is expensive, which is the main reason leading to the high value of solar cells; and graphene may be very cheap, because carbon is very rich."

However, although graphene has good conductivity, it is far from satisfactory in terms of collecting the current generated inside the solar cell, which is why Heter and others are trying to change the graphene to make it more useful. Graphene oxide has thus become the focus of Hutt's research.

According to a recent report by the Physicist Organization Network, they sent oxygen into the carbon grid, which resulted in a decrease in the conductivity of graphene oxide, but increased transparency and charge collection. Subsequently, Hutt et al. used X-ray scattering technology and the 8.0.1 beamline of the advanced light source of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory under the US Department of Energy, how the oxide attached to the graphene grid changed the properties of the graphene and its carryover. The interaction between the charged graphene atoms was studied.

The study found that each different part of the graphene oxide has a unique electrical mark. Using a synchrotron, Hutt can measure where the electrons are on the graphene and how different oxide groups change the properties of the graphene. In addition, he also studied how graphene oxide decays. He discovered that some oxidation groups are not stable and can be combined to tear graphene grids; others react with water. If water is added to the graphene oxide device, it will be heated and the water will actually burn the graphene oxide to produce carbon dioxide, which may be very important to clarify how to develop a durable solar cell.

Hutt said that more similar research is needed to make solar cells using graphene.

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