Sticky tape opens up solar cell markets

The discovery of phosphorous - - detail from painting by W. Pether of Brandt, an alchemist, discovery of phosphorousA team of researchers at the Australian National University (ANU) has hit on a way that it could mean ultrathin and ultralight solar cells and LEDs will be available.

The discovery is based on the element phosphorous which the researchers showed could produce single atom layers called phosphorene using simply sticky tape.

Phosphorene acts like a semiconductor much as silicon does and is light too.

Lead scientist Dr Yuerui Lu from ANU said: “It shows very promising light emission properties. It creates possibilities for making lots of interesting devices such as LEDs or solar cells.”

The phosphorene is manufactured by using sticky tape to peel layers of crystals from the black crystalline form of phosphorous, Lu said.

By varying different layers, engineers can control the band gap, so changing the colour of the LED made.

Lu said phospherene at very thin layers is better than silicon – which doesn’t like repeated applications of sticky tape.