Could This Be The World's Thinnest Solar Cell?

Could This Be The World's Thinnest Solar Cell?

With the technology behind solar panels becoming more and more advanced, solar cells production is set to change as researchers at the Vienna University of Technology have created a diode made of tungsten diselenide.

The graphene material consists of just one layer of atoms and is able to convert light into electrical power. It is hoped that the material can be used to create ultrathin solar cells and even mounted onto building facades.

Professor Thomas Mueller was part of the research team who made the recent discovery. Thanks to its opto-electronic properties, graphene is able to transform optical signals into electric pulses but had not yet been considered for use in solar cells.

"The electronic states in graphene are not very practical for creating photovoltaics" explains Mueller. Instead the team focused on materials that could also be arranged in ultrathin layers but have better electronic properties.

Unlike bulky silicon solar cells, tungsten diselenide is made up of one layer of tungsten atoms connected by selenium atoms. The material is so thin that 95% of light passes through but a tenth of the remaining five percent can be converted into electrical power.

"We are envisioning solar cell layers on glass facades, which let part of the light into the building while at the same time creating electricity", says Mueller.

With researchers at the University of Washington and MIT also exploring the potential of tungsten disenide, this powerful new material is sure to play a big role in the future of solar batteries and portable solar panels.

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March 10, 2014 | By Aussie Batteries | Comments

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