MIT is reporting success with a new manufacturing method using ultra thin graphene which could be used in more efficient solar panels or LEDs.
The technique uses a buffer material to allow graphene less that a billionth of a metre thick to be lifted up off its substrate and placed onto a roll without wrinkling or creasing. The researchers hope this could one day replace the indium tin oxide (ITO) currently used, and by using chemical vapour deposition (CVD) manufacturing could be created cheaply and on a large scale.
The buffer material, parylene, is widely used in the microelectronics industry, usually to encapsulate and protect electronic devices, so the supply chains and equipment are already widespread. MIT postdoctorate Giovanni Azzellino explains, “Graphene comes for almost free. Ultra-lightweight graphene-based devices can pave the way to a new generation of applications, so if you think about portable devices, the power per weight becomes a very important figure of merit. What if we could deploy a transparent solar cell on your tablet that is able to power up the tablet itself?”
This comes on the heels of MIT findings that over a seven-year period, decline in PV costs outpaced decline in value.