• Jiajie Pei making phosphorene. Photo credit: Stuart Hay, ANUJiajie Pei making phosphorene. Photo credit: Stuart Hay, ANU

Sticky tape could be key to ultra-thin solar cells

A team at the Australian National University (ANU) has discovered a way to produce ultra-thin solar cells using sticky tape.  Using a method that was made famous when the creators of graphene used scotch tape to pull off thin layers of graphite, the ANU team have succeeded in extracting ultra-thin layers of phosphorene.  Unlike graphene, phosphorene is a semi-conductor, like silicon, which is the basis of current electronics technology.

Lead researcher Dr Yuerui (Larry) Lu said: "Because phosphorene is so thin and light, it creates possibilities for making lots of interesting devices, such as LEDs or solar cells, it shows very promising light emission properties.”

Phosphorene was created by using the sticky tape to peel thin layers of crystals from the black crystalline form of phosphorus.  Phosphorene’s light-emitting properties vary widely with the thickness of the layers, so the new material offers a great deal of flexibility for manufacturing.

Dr Lu went on to explain why the behavior of phosphorene is superior to that of silicon: "Phosphorene's surface states are minimised, unlike silicon, whose surface states are serious and prevent it being used in such a thin state."

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