By combining the wonder material graphene with other one-atom-thick materials, such as TMDC, to make stacks/2D-crystals, it becomes possible to produce an enormous range of superlative properties, and likely to create the “next generation” of solar cells, according to researchers from the University of Manchester and the National University of Singapore.
“Collectively, such 2D crystals demonstrate a vast range of superlative properties: from conductive to insulating, from opaque to transparent. Every new layer in these stacks adds exciting new functions, so the heterostructures are ideal for creating novel, multifunctional devices.”
The researchers think that this development may lead to photovoltaic structures that could be placed on the outer walls of buildings, and capable of completely powering said buildings. “The energy can be used at will to change the transparency and reflectivity of fixtures and windows depending on environmental conditions, such as temperature and brightness.”
The press release gets into some of the specifics:
In these devices, layers of TMDC were sandwiched between two layers of graphene, combining the exciting properties of both 2D crystals. TMDC layers act as very efficient light absorbers and graphene as a transparent conductive layer. This allows for further integration of such photovoltaic devices into more complex, more multifunctional heterostructures.
Professor Kostya Novoselov, a Nobel Laureate from the University of Manchester, said: “We are excited about the new physics and new opportunities which are brought to us by heterostructures based on 2D atomic crystals. The library of available 2D crystals is already quite rich, covering a large parameter space.
“Such photoactive heterostructures add yet new possibilities, and pave the road for new types of experiments. As we create more and more complex heterostructures, so the functionalities of the devices will become richer, entering the realm of multifunctional devices.”
There seems to be a new solar energy “breakthrough” announced almost every other day. This new development sounds promising, as do many others, but it remains to be sees what will pan out in the long run.