Graphene could double the rate of solar energy conversion

In an experiment that could nearly double the rate of solar energy conversion from 32 to 60 percent, scientists in Switzerland have used the super-material graphene to convert a single photon into many electrons to produce an electric current. 

The team, from the Swiss École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), demonstrates how graphene could join cadmium telluride, copper indium gallium selenide/sulphide, and various silicon structures as one of the few known photovoltaic materials - high-efficiency, solar energy-producing materials. 

They achieved this by placing a sample of graphene - a thin layer of pure carbon that’s around 100 times stronger than steel and a very efficient heat and electricity conductor - into an ultra-high vacuum chamber. The graphene they used was ‘doped’, which means electrons were added or subtracted chemically before the experiment. 

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