Sticky tape used to make high-tech, ultra-thin solar cells

Thin layers of phosphorene better than silicon & could harvest solar energy more efficiently

Jiajie Pei creating phosphorene, ANU Jiajie Pei creating phosphorene. Photo_Stuart Hay, ANU

Researchers have successfully used sticky tape to help build ultrathin and light-weight solar cells that could improve the way solar energy is collected, according to scientists at the Australian National University in Canberra.

Solar cells are used to collect energy from the sun to convert into electrical power for portable devices such as lights, radios and computers.

The team used normal adhesive tape to create single-atom thick layers called phosphorene in the same way as the recent Nobel-prize winning discovery of graphene.

Dr Yuerui Lu from ANU sticky tape team

Dr Yuerui Lu (middle) led a team which used household tape to shave thinner then thinner layers of crystals from black crystalline phosphorus

The phosphorene works as a semiconductor, but is thinner and lighter than the silicon which is generally used in devices such as LEDs or solar cells.

Lead researcher Dr Yuerui (Larry) Lu said the household tape was used to peel thinner and thinner layers of crystals from the black crystalline form of phosphorus.

“Previously people used the Scotch tape (sticky tape) technique to thin down the graphite down to one layer called graphene,” he said.

“So we borrowed this type of technique to produce the thin layer of phosphorene from the black crystal.”

Researchers said the phosphorene was thin, light and had semiconductor properties that could be used to replace silicon in some technology.

Dr Lu said the behaviour of phosphorene in thin layers was superior to silicon and could be tuned to better harvest solar energy for thousands of devices.

Read the complete article on ABCnews

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