Graphene electrodes will help create flexible and invisible solar panels


Why did the company Tesla several months ago began to mask their models of solar panels under the banal roofing tiles? Now that the energy of our star can be exploited by every person with money, the arrays of solar batteries have turned from a prestigious element of the landscape into a thorn in the eye. They are sought, if not hidden, then integrated as inconspicuously into the overall landscape.

Organic solar panels lose analogs based on silicon on a number of parameters, but they are lighter, cheaper and, most importantly, almost transparent. An excellent platform for experiments with the design of battery-invisible, but all spoils the presence of metal electrodes. But what if we replace metal with graphene? With the thickness of the conductor in one atom for the human eye, it is certainly not visible, no matter how extensive the electrical network.

However, it is difficult to work with graphene, standard engineering solutions are only harmful. Yi Song of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology says directly that they were lucky to stumble upon an interesting option. Instead of gluing graphene onto the substrate, which degrades the properties of the conductor, they simply applied two layers of graphene on the sides of a thin tape of ethylene vinyl acetate. It serves as the basis of construction and at the same time insulation.

Developers from MIT

The efficiency of energy conversion in a battery with graphene conductors achieves a coefficient of 4.1 – much worse than traditional designs, but the best indicator among “transparent” batteries. Of course, this is a convention, even with inconspicuous graphene inside the panel skips only 70% of the visible light, but again, this is the highest rate at the moment.

Scientists expect that in the future they will be able to increase the efficiency of panels with graphene electrodes by another 10% without loss of transparency. They will look like a smoky flexible curtain, almost weightless, but strong enough to be mounted without an additional frame. And, in theory, such panels can be applied to walls and even windows, like a transparent lacquer, without compromising the aesthetic component of the interior.

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