World’s Thinnest Solar Cells Developed By Vienna University Of Technology

If you thought that with the advent of Graphene, things are going to change drastically in the electronics domain and solar device manufacturing, wait till you hear about "tungsten diselenide". A team of researchers from Vienna University of Technology have been successful in development of a diode out of tungsten diselenide. And believe it or not, it can not get any thinner than this. The new found material's use with just one or very few atomic layers can make possible the manufacturing of ultrathin flexible solar cells and also flexible displays, which are fast becoming popular. This can now officially be called the world's thinnest solar cell.

The research team at the University which includes Thomas Müller, Marco Furchi and Andreas Pospischil, had started looking for materials which can be arranged in ultrathin layers, but have even better electronic properties than Graphene. That's when they came across - tungsten diselenide. It consists of one layer of tungsten atoms, which are connected by selenium atoms above and below the tungsten plane. Tungsten diselenide absorbs light, which can be used to create electrical power.

Thomas Müller, Marco Furchi, Andreas Pospischil (left to right) from the Vienna University Of Technology

The layer is so thin that 95% of the light just passes through it. Whatever remains, 1/10th out of that 5% is converted into electrical power. Therefore, the internal efficiency is very high. The team believes that the applications lie in solar cell layers on glass facades, which let part of the light into the building while at the same time creating electricity. The solar cells in use today are mostly made using silicon and are therefore very heavy and inflexible. Using the new technique of two-dimensional (2D) structures, the single atomic layers get crystallinity which brings stability.

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