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New Material Promises to Save LCD, Solar Power Industry
Written by Daniel   
Saturday, 29 December 2007 12:25

 New Material Promises to Save LCD, Solar Power Industry
Jason Mick (Blog) - December 29, 2007 1:13 PM

 German researchers have made a research breakthrough that may salvage the solar industry from the brink of disaster

It sounds like the death knell of the solar power industry -- shrinking Earth supplies of indium, which experts estimate will only last for 10 more years. Facing its darkest hour, a new breakthrough by researchers at Germany's Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research holds the promise of saving the solar industry from an untimely demise.

Solar cells have always relied on the metal indium, due to its transparency, which is essential to light emission or absorption in electronics. Engineers also regard indium valuable in LCDs and other transparent electrical devices. However, indium is a relatively rare metal on Earth and existing supplies are rapidly dwindling. Researchers have frantically searched for transparent conducting materials to little avail.

A new team claims it may have found the solution in one of the Earth's most abundant elements. Researchers at the Planck Institute have devised a new approach, utilizing graphene -- single 2D layers of carbon atoms, extracted from graphite --10 layers of which are applied to form an electrode. Each layer that comprises the electrode is a mere 5 nm thick.

The material has conductivity comparable or superior to indium and falls just slightly short of indium in transparent character. The current device is 80% transparent to visible light and 100% transparent to infrared light...More   Comment in the Forums

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