DOE scientists confirm ‘selenium’ electron configuration has key role in graphene technology
A DOE team of scientists has confirmed that the electron configuration used to fabricate a variety of materials used in electronic devices, including semiconductors and solar cells, uses a material called graphene.
The new findings were published in the journal Nature Communications.
“The discovery of the silicon-graphene arrangement of the materials is a step toward a new approach to the manufacture of high-performance semiconducting materials,” said Dr. John C. Schramm, the lead author of the study.
“Our work reveals a critical element of the structure of the electronic circuit of the solar cell, as well as for a number of other applications,” he added.
The researchers tested graphene-based solar cells on a single-layer graphene sheet at room temperature and found that they were far superior to conventional silicon-based materials.
They also found that the silicon layer was capable of supporting a wide range of electric and magnetic fields.
“Graphene was able to resist the electric field generated by a wide variety of magnetic fields, from those of the Sun to those of a solar wind,” Schramms said.
“By using a new arrangement of graphene and a silicon-carbon nanotube (CNT) nanostructure, we have been able to use the same semiconductor to construct several different materials with different conductivity.”
Graphenes and silicon are two of the most abundant and versatile materials in nature.
They are the most common and flexible of all materials.
Graphes are used to make many different electronic components, including photovoltaic cells, solar cells and wind turbines.
But the semiconductivity of graphene can’t match that of silicon.
Schramm’s research group used a different semiconductor material called nano-nano carbon to make a graphene-nanotube material.
He says that the new arrangement allows the semiconductor layer to retain its shape and conductivity even at very high temperatures.
“We were able to reduce the thermal conductivity of the material and make it as thin as 50 nanometers, and that means it could be used to manufacture very thin solar cells or wind turbines, which have very high power density,” he said.
According to Schram, this is the first time that scientists have observed a silicon–graphen arrangement in a semiconductor.
“There are a lot of challenges that go into making a silicon and graphene sheet that is both flexible and conductive,” he explained.
“But these problems are solved by a new way to do this.
It’s an exciting time for research into graphene and other semiconducted materials.”
The scientists say they expect to soon be able to fabricatively fabricate graphene-and-silicon solar cells at room temperatures and see the materials use in solar cells as far away as the Moon and Mars.
“It is still a very young field,” said Schram.
“And we’re still working out a lot more about what these materials will be able do.”
Follow Michael Cooney on Twitter at: mcooney_mike,mike_cooney,melbourne-based research,solar,energy source ABC News (AU) title Solar cells could revolutionise energy generation source ABC New Zealand article The world’s biggest solar power company has been awarded a $10 million grant to investigate the possibility of making solar cells that can be made from materials that have a low energy density, or the lowest energy possible.
Key points:Melbourne-headquartered SunPower has received the $10m grant from the Department of Energy, Energy Research and Science to develop solar cells with low energy densitiesSolar cells are already used in mobile phones, but a new research paper by the University of Melbourne suggests they could revolutionize energy generationThere are already some commercially available solar cells made of silicon and a carbon nanotubes.
But the company is seeking a way to make them from graphene, a material that has the highest energy density and the lowest possible energy loss.
SunPower said the company had been working on the research for about two years, and it hoped to have a working prototype ready for commercialisation in 2021.
“Solar cells have a long history of being made from silicon and other carbon nanostructures,” SunPower chief executive officer Paul Kelly said.
He said it was important to be able create a material with a lower energy density because it was used in some solar cells.
“One of the key reasons why we’re looking at solar cells is because it has such an enormous potential in terms of cost,” he told ABC Radio Melbourne.
“Because of its low energy loss, and because it’s not a highly conductive material, you can make solar cells out of it.”
You could actually build them from a very thin sheet of carbon nanowires.
“Mr Kelly said there was a “high degree of commercial interest” in the material, which is used in smartphones, cars