MIT Scientists Developed Cost Effective Dye Sensitized Solar Cells Using 3d Graphene

Scientists reduce cost of dye-sensitized solar cells

9:52 AM, 21st August 2013
MIT Research on  Dye Sensitized Solar Cells Using 3d Graphene
A field emission scanning electron microscopy (FESEM) image of 3D honeycomb-structured graphene. The novel material can replace platinum in dye-sensitized solar cells with virtually no loss of generating capacity.

MICHIGAN, US: Dye-sensitized solar cells are thin, flexible, easy to make and very good at turning sunshine into electricity. Major drawback is the use of key ingredient which is the most expensive metals on the planet: platinum. Scientists at Michigan Technological University are trying to overcome this.

Yun Hang Hu, Professor, Michigan Technological University has developed a new, inexpensive material that could replace the platinum in solar cells without degrading their efficiency: 3D graphene.

Regular graphene is a famously two-dimensional form of carbon just a molecule or so thick. Hu and his team invented a novel approach to synthesize a unique 3D version with a honeycomb-like structure. To do so, they combined lithium oxide with carbon monoxide in a chemical reaction that forms lithium carbonate (Li2CO3) and the honeycomb graphene. The Li2CO3 helps shape the graphene sheets and isolates them from each other, preventing the formation of garden-variety graphite. Furthermore, the Li2CO3 particles can be easily removed from 3D honeycomb-structured graphene by an acid.

The researchers determined that the 3D honeycomb graphene had excellent conductivity and high catalytic activity, raising the possibility that it could be used for energy storage and conversion. So they replaced the platinum counter electrode in a dye-sensitized solar cell with one made of the 3D honeycomb graphene. Then they put the solar cell in the sunshine and measured its output.

The cell with the 3D graphene counter electrode converted 7.8 per cent of the sun’s energy into electricity, nearly as much as the conventional solar cell using costly platinum (8 per cent). Synthesizing the 3D honeycomb graphene is neither expensive nor difficult and making it into a counter electrode posed no special challenges, said Hu.

© Michigan Technological University News



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