Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Major leap towards graphene for solar cells

Date:
October 8, 2013
Source:
Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin für Materialien und Energie
Summary:
Scientists have shown that graphene retains its impressive set of properties when it is coated with a thin silicon film. These findings have paved the way for entirely new possibilities to use in thin-film photovoltaics.

Graphene was deposited onto a glass substrate. The ultrathin layer is but one atomic layer thick (0.3 Angström, or 0.03 nanometers), although charge carriers are able to move about freely within this layer. This property is retained even if the graphene layer is covered with amorphous or polycrystalline silicon.
Credit: Marc A. Gluba/HZB

Graphene has extreme conductivity and is completely transparent while being inexpensive and nontoxic. This makes it a perfect candidate material for transparent contact layers for use in solar cells to conduct electricity without reducing the amount of incoming light -- at least in theory. Whether or not this holds true in a real world setting is questionable as there is no such thing as "ideal" graphene -- a free floating, flat honeycomb structure consisting of a single layer of carbon atoms: interactions with adjacent layers can change graphene's properties dramatically.

Now, Dr. Marc Gluba and Prof. Dr. Norbert Nickel of the HZB Institute for Silicon Photovoltaics have shown that graphene retains its impressive set of properties when it is coated with a thin silicon film. These findings have paved the way for entirely new possibilities to use in thin-film photovoltaics.

"We examined how graphene's conductive properties change if it is incorporated into a stack of layers similar to a silicon based thin film solar cell and were surprised to find that these properties actually change very little," Marc Gluba explains.

To this end, they grew graphene on a thin copper sheet, next transferred it to a glass substrate, and finally coated it with a thin film of silicon. They examined two different versions that are commonly used in conventional silicon thin-film technologies: one sample contained an amorphous silicon layer, in which the silicon atoms are in a disordered state similar to a hardened molten glas; the other sample contained poly-crystalline silicon to help them observe the effects of a standard crystallization process on graphene's properties.

Even though the morphology of the top layer changed completely as a result of being heated to a temperature of several hundred degrees C, the graphene is still detectable.

"That's something we didn't expect to find, but our results demonstrate that graphene remains graphene even if it is coated with silicon," says Norbert Nickel. Their measurements of carrier mobility using the Hall-effect showed that the mobility of charge carriers within the embedded graphene layer is roughly 30 times greater than that of conventional zinc oxide based contact layers. Says Gluba: "Admittedly, it's been a real challenge connecting this thin contact layer, which is but one atomic layer thick, to external contacts. We're still having to work on that." Adds Nickel: "Our thin film technology colleagues are already pricking up their ears and wanting to incorporate it."

The researchers obtained their measurements on one square centimeter samples, although in practice it is feasible to coat much larger areas than that with graphene.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin für Materialien und Energie. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. M. A. Gluba, D. Amkreutz, G. V. Troppenz, J. Rappich, N. H. Nickel. Embedded graphene for large-area silicon-based devices. Applied Physics Letters, 2013; 103 (7): 073102 DOI: 10.1063/1.4818461

Cite This Page:

Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin für Materialien und Energie. "Major leap towards graphene for solar cells." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 October 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131008112541.htm>.
Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin für Materialien und Energie. (2013, October 8). Major leap towards graphene for solar cells. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131008112541.htm
Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin für Materialien und Energie. "Major leap towards graphene for solar cells." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131008112541.htm (accessed April 23, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Is North Korea Planning Nuclear Test #4?

Is North Korea Planning Nuclear Test #4?

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) — South Korean officials say North Korea is preparing to conduct another nuclear test, but is Pyongyang just bluffing this time? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
China Falls for 4x4s at Beijing Auto Show

China Falls for 4x4s at Beijing Auto Show

AFP (Apr. 22, 2014) — The urban 4x4 is the latest must-have for Chinese drivers, whose conversion to the cult of the SUV is the talking point of this year's Beijing auto show. Duration: 00:40 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Lytro Introduces 'Illum,' A Professional Light-Field Camera

Lytro Introduces 'Illum,' A Professional Light-Field Camera

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) — The light-field photography engineers at Lytro unveiled their next innovation: a professional DSLR-like camera called "Illum." Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
3 Reasons Why Harley Davidson Is Selling Tons of Epic Hogs

3 Reasons Why Harley Davidson Is Selling Tons of Epic Hogs

TheStreet (Apr. 22, 2014) — Sales of motorcycles have continued to ride back from the depths of hell known as the Great Recession. Excluding scooters, sales of motorcycles increased 3% in 2013. In units, however, at 465,000 sold last year, the total remained about 50% below the peak hit in 2007. Industry leader Harley Davidson’s shareholders have benefited both by the industry recovery and positive headlines emanating from the company. Belus Capital Advisors CEO Brian Sozzi takes you beyond the headlines of the motorcycle maker. Video provided by TheStreet
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:
from the past week

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