Prof. Jeffrey C. Grossman and his team at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) (click here to visit our latest Grossman Group review) recently published a stunning paper in American Chemical Society (ACS) Nano Letters, “Extraordinary Sunlight Absorption and One Nanometer Thick Photovoltaics Using Two-Dimensional Monolayer Materials”.
Before discussing the Grossman Groups findings, let’s remember a few important facts about solar energy field. First of all, the two most significant challenges solar energy advocates face are the efficiency of the solar cells and the cost associated with the cells & their deployment. Secondly, while the most dominant solar cell technology, Crystalline Silicon, offer higher efficiencies than the Thin Film solar cells, the Thin Film solar cells are significantly less expensive. Today, scientists are aiming to both increase the solar cell efficiencies and lower the cost of deployment.
In this paper, the Grossman Group makes a significant discovery to lower the cost component while potentially meeting the same level of efficiency that Crystalline Silicon offers. The team created a computer simulation of a “one molecule thick” layer of Graphene with a “one molecule thick” layer of Molybdenum Disulfide.
The resulting cell provides about 1% efficiency. Perhaps that is not an exciting number by itself but if we keep in mind that this structure is one nanometer thick (billionth of a meter), the importance of this discovery could be better understood.
The Grossman Group indicates that putting these structures on top of each other, stacking them up, could result in the same level of efficiencies that Crystalline Silicon provides but with a significantly lower cost.
Even though this is a computer simulation and the cell is not produced yet, we are extremely excited to see this development and we are looking forward to see the Grossman Group create this cell.