Researchers in Prof. Zhenan Bao’s laboratory have fabricated a robust flexible tunable solar cell based entirely on carbon materials. This technology employs different allotropes of carbon for the semiconducting photovoltaic layer the cathode and the anode. By using carbon instead of more expensive traditional materials (such as silicon ITO or silver) this solar cell takes advantage of carbon’s exceptional electrical optical and mechanical properties - transparency tunability (light absorption in visible to infrared range) flexibility and stability at high temperatures. This invention can be used as an organic solar cell for renewable energy production with features particularly well suited for harsh environments.Carbon solar cell structure. The active photovoltaic layer is formed from a bilayer film of single-walled nanotubes (SWNTs) and C60 sandwiched between a reduced graphene oxide anode and an n-type doped-SWNT cathode.
1) Low cost: carbon-based materials are less expensive and more readily available than conventional materials such as silicon silver and ITOsolution-based processing with simple coating methods rather than expensive tools and machines required for silicon 2) Flexible: all the materials in this structure have been shown to be highly flexible. It may be possible to impart stretchablity on these materials as well. 3) Robust: resilient to high temperatures 4) Tunable: semiconducting carbon nanotubes have light absorption from visible to infrared rangedevice shows absorption in the infrared range up to 1500nm 5) Transparent: light absorbed from both sides of material