University of southern California experts indicate a more efficient use of graphene solar panels
Is it possible to imagine people powering their cellphone or music/video device while jogging on a sunny day?
A University of Southern California team has produced flexible transparent carbon atom films that may have great potential for a brand new breed of solar cells.
Inside a paper recently published by the journal ACS Nano, researchers stated that organic photovoltaic (OPV) cells have been proposed as an approach to achieve low cost energy due to their ease of manufacture, light-weight, and compatibility with flexible substrates.
The new work shows that graphene, a highly conductive and highly transparent form of carbon made up of atoms-thick sheets of carbon atoms, has high possibility to fill this role.
While graphene’s existence has been known for decades, it has only been studied extensively since 2004 due to the difficulty of manufacturing it in high quality and quantity.
The University of southern California team has produced graphene / polymer sheets ranging in sizes about 150 square centimeters that in turn may be used to create dense arrays of flexible organic photovoltaic (OPV) cells.
These organic photovoltaic (OPV) devices convert solar radiation to electricity, but not as efficiently as silicon cells.
The power provided by sunlight on a sunny day is about 1,000 watts per meter square, for every 1,000 watts of sunlight that hits a square meter area of the standard silicon solar cell, 14 watts of electricity will be generated, Organic solar cells are less efficient; their conversion rate for that same 1,000 watts of sunlight in the graphene-based solar cell could be only 1.3 watts.
But what graphene organic photovoltaic (OPV) lack in efficiency, can potentially be compensated by its lower price and, greater physical flexibility.
Researchers think it may eventually be possible to cover with inexpensive solar cell layers extensive areas like newspapers, magazines or power generating clothing.
In the meanwhile Prof. Ruoff and his colleagues of the mechanical engineering department at the University of Texas at Austin, are studying the basic science in the introduction of graphene-based ultracapacitors for use in electronics and various fields.
Prof. Ruoff says batteries are relatively slow, they can store energy but take a while to charge up, and then they distribute energy slowly, as time passes.
Ultracapacitors can be charged rapidly, in seconds, and discharge rapidly, but, today, they can’t store very much electrical energy.
The development of stable and less expensive ultracapacitors is seen as a key step in using wind or solar-generated power, particularly if researchers can discover ways to enable capacitors to store energy longer, which is not yet possible.
Even with their current storage capacity, the graphene devices could provide quick energy when needed in certain situations on the green way.
They could be used, as an example, to absorb heat generated in braking a car or train, and store it for a short time, and then employ it for the electrical needs of the vehicle (i.e. starting the automobile or acceleration)
The author – Sophia H. Walker writes for the <a href=”http://solarcharger.org.uk/”>solar power charger</a> blog, her personal hobby blog focused entirely on tips to help individuals save electricity using solar power for small accessories.