April 20, 2013
UK Researchers Develop Transparent Photoelectric Smart Device
redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online
Researchers at the University of Exeter have reportedly developed a new flexible and transparent photoelectric device that converts light into electrical signals by taking advantage of a pair of recently discovered materials.
The device, which is detailed in the latest edition of the journal ACS Nano, exploits the unique properties of graphene, the thinnest conductive material on Earth, and graphExeter, the best-known room temperature transparent conductor discovered, to date.
The newly designed device is ultra-lightweight and just a few atoms thick, the researchers explained. When combined with the flexibility of its constituent graphene materials, it can be easily incorporated into clothing. The result could be photovoltaic textiles capable of transforming shirts and pants into solar panels that charge smartphones and other small electronic devices while they are being worn.
“This new flexible and transparent photosensitive device uses graphene and graphExeter to convert light into electrical signals with efficiency comparable to that found in opaque devices based on graphene and metals,” Dr. Saverio Russo, a physics professor at the UK university, said Friday in a statement.
“We are only just starting to explore the interfaces between different materials at very small scales and, as this research shows, we are revealing unique properties that we never knew existed,” he added. “Who knows what surprises are just around the corner?”
What separates the photosensitive device developed at the University of Exeter from other types of smart electronics is it contains no metals. Typically, metallic nanostructures in smart materials result in a haze that keeps them from being truly transparent, but the lack of those nanostructures in this device means there is no such issue.
Furthermore, the device is capable of detecting light from across the whole visible light spectrum, making it is as efficient at sensing light as any other recently developed opaque photoelectric device.
Russo´s work was sponsored by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), an organization which funds research in the fields of engineering and the physical sciences.