Graphene to boost solar cell efficiency

As well as promising to revolutionise chips by stealing the crown from silicon, graphene could be used to create solar cells that are miles more efficient.

According to a team at MIT, graphene, which has properties that are often been described as ‘wondrous’, could be the key to boosting the efficiency of dye-sensitised solar cells.

Dye-sensitised solar cells are a new breed of solar cells which are cheaper and easier to produce than conventional photovoltaic panels which adorn many houses.  

One problem with new solar cells is that the efficiency is not great when compared to silicon or thin film cells, the latter of which is set to grow in popularity.

However, the use of graphene in production has helped to increase the energy output of the dye-sensitised cells.

These produce energy when photons knock electrons into a layer of titanium dioxide, before relaying them to an anode.  

By adding graphene into the mix it was possible to bring 52.4 percent more current into the circuit. This is because the sheets of the one atom thick graphene are able to act as bridges which can make transferring electrons a lot easier.  

Indeed, one of the most hyped qualities of graphene since its discovery by Professor Geim at Manchester University is its high electron mobility.

So as well as being used in chips inside products in the future, graphene could also play a role in powering them too.