Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

3-D graphene: Solar cells' new platinum?

Date:
August 20, 2013
Source:
Michigan Technological University
Summary:
Platinum is a key material in dye-sensitized solar cells, where it is used to make counter electrodes. A new, 3-D form of graphene made from carbon monoxide and lithium oxide was used to replace the platinum with virtually no loss in electrical generating capacity.

A field emission scanning electron microscopy (FESEM) image of 3D honeycomb-structured graphene. The novel material can replace platinum in dye-sensitized solar cells with virtually no loss of generating capacity.
Credit: Hui Wang

One of the most promising types of solar cells has a few drawbacks. A scientist at Michigan Technological University may have overcome one of them.

Related Articles


Dye-sensitized solar cells are thin, flexible, easy to make and very good at turning sunshine into electricity. However, a key ingredient is one of the most expensive metals on the planet: platinum. While only small amounts are needed, at $1,500 an ounce, the cost of the silvery metal is still significant.

Yun Hang Hu, the Charles and Caroll McArthur Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, has developed a new, inexpensive material that could replace the platinum in solar cells without degrading their efficiency: 3D graphene.

Regular graphene is a famously two-dimensional form of carbon just a molecule or so thick. Hu and his team invented a novel approach to synthesize a unique 3D version with a honeycomb-like structure. To do so, they combined lithium oxide with carbon monoxide in a chemical reaction that forms lithium carbonate (Li2CO3) and the honeycomb graphene. The Li2CO3 helps shape the graphene sheets and isolates them from each other, preventing the formation of garden-variety graphite. Furthermore, the Li2CO3 particles can be easily removed from 3D honeycomb-structured graphene by an acid.

The researchers determined that the 3D honeycomb graphene had excellent conductivity and high catalytic activity, raising the possibility that it could be used for energy storage and conversion. So they replaced the platinum counter electrode in a dye-sensitized solar cell with one made of the 3D honeycomb graphene. Then they put the solar cell in the sunshine and measured its output.

The cell with the 3D graphene counter electrode converted 7.8 percent of the sun's energy into electricity, nearly as much as the conventional solar cell using costly platinum (8 percent).

Synthesizing the 3D honeycomb graphene is neither expensive nor difficult, said Hu, and making it into a counter electrode posed no special challenges.

The research has been funded by the American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund (PRF-51799-ND10) and the National Science Foundation (NSF-CBET-0931587).


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Michigan Technological University. The original article was written by Marcia Goodrich. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Hui Wang, Kai Sun, Franklin Tao, Dario J. Stacchiola, Yun Hang Hu. 3D Honeycomb-Like Structured Graphene and Its High Efficiency as a Counter-Electrode Catalyst for Dye-Sensitized Solar Cells. Angewandte Chemie, 2013; DOI: 10.1002/ange.201303497

Cite This Page:

Michigan Technological University. "3-D graphene: Solar cells' new platinum?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 August 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130820135049.htm>.
Michigan Technological University. (2013, August 20). 3-D graphene: Solar cells' new platinum?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 31, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130820135049.htm
Michigan Technological University. "3-D graphene: Solar cells' new platinum?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130820135049.htm (accessed March 31, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Matter & Energy News

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Bionic Ants Could Be Tomorrow's Factory Workers

Bionic Ants Could Be Tomorrow's Factory Workers

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Mar. 30, 2015) Industrious 3D printed bionic ants working together could toil in the factories of the future, says German technology company Festo. The robotic insects cooperate and coordinate their actions and movements to achieve a common aim. Amy Pollock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
You Won't Be Driving Tesla's Mystery Product

You Won't Be Driving Tesla's Mystery Product

Newsy (Mar. 30, 2015) Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced a new product line will debut April 30, but it&apos;s not a car. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Solar Impulse Departs Myanmar for China

Solar Impulse Departs Myanmar for China

AFP (Mar. 30, 2015) Solar Impulse 2 takes off from Myanmar&apos;s second biggest city of Mandalay and heads for China&apos;s Chongqing, the fifth flight of a landmark journey to circumnavigate the globe powered solely by the sun. Duration: 00:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Internet Giants Drive Into the Electric Vehicle Space

Internet Giants Drive Into the Electric Vehicle Space

Reuters - Business Video Online (Mar. 30, 2015) Internet companies are looking to disrupt the auto industry with new smart e-vehicles, but widespread adoption in Asia may not be cured by new Chinese investments. Pamela Ambler reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins