Graphene is a material made up of single-atom thick sheets of carbon which makes graphene flexible, conductive, transparent and abundant. Currently, researchers are trying to fully incorporate graphene into thin-film solar cells due to graphene’s high conductance and transparency; however, graphene cannot hold an electrical charge as well as some other materials. As a result, scientists are coming up with new ways to process graphene sheets so that they are better suited for use in solar energy applications.
One way to improve the use of graphene in solar cells is to dope the sheets of graphene with oxygen to create graphene oxide which is less conductive but better able to hold a charge. If this technology is successfully developed and executed, it could replace the brittle and rare Indium Tin Oxide (ITO) which is a useful, but very expensive conductor. Another idea that scientists are investigating is stacking multiple sheets of graphene together to increase conductance and charge capacity. This allows less light to penetrate the surface of the solar cells but also increases the charge capacity, allowing the graphene sheets to outperform ITO.
Both of these ideas for graphene usage in solar cells demonstrate the materials science paradigm of processing a material to obtain optimal properties for the application. Our video will talk about the structure of graphene itself and how processing the graphene differently alters the structure of graphene which improves its properties and allows it to perform better in photovoltaic cells. These positive effects of graphene usage in solar cells would clearly benefit the environment by creating cheaper and more efficient solar cells.
Sources Cited in Abstract:
Introduction to solar panels, N-type and P-type semiconductors:
Image on Page 4 based picture from:
Intro to current problems with solar cells:
Solar cells are expensive:
Current solar panels are not efficient :
Properties of Graphene:
Image Credits (in order of appearance):
Custom images/animation by our team