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Zapping a new approach to solar cells
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Popping phosphorus into a laboratory microwave is a quick and convenient method for making single-atom-thick sheets of the material, research led by Flinders University has shown.
Just like carbon gains super-properties when slimmed down to its 2D form graphene, so does phosphorene, the 2D form of phosphorus. The material boasts excellent electron mobility, for example, and has been shown to be a powerful electrocatalyst.
Now, an Australian research team has shown that phosphorene could boost the performance of dye-sensitised solar cells (DSSCs). Although touted as a potential low-cost alternative to silicon solar cells, DSSCs require the rare and expensive precious metal platinum for one key electrocatalytic component of the cell.
The team has now shown sheets of black phosphorus just a few atomic layers thick, made by microwave-assisted liquid-phase exfoliation, are a promising DSSC electrocatalyst. The DSSCs they fabricated using this material had a photovoltaic efficiency of 8.31 per cent, outperforming expensive platinum-based cells.
- Angewandte Chemie International Edition 57, 2644–2647 (2018). doi: 10.1002/anie.201712280