Semitransparent and flexible: Solar cells made from atomically thin sheet

Researchers at Tohoku University have developed an innovative method for fabricating semitransparent and flexible solar cells with atomically thin 2D materials. The new technology improves power conversion efficiency of up to 0.7% -- this is the highest value for solar cells made from transparent 2D sheet materials.

Transparent or semi-transparent solar cells with excellent mechanical flexibility have attracted much attention as next-generation smart solar cells. They can be used in various applications such as on the surfaces of windows, front display panels of personal computers and cell phones, and human skin. But issues remain with regards to improving their power conversion efficiency, optical transparency, flexibility, stability and scalability.

Led by Associate Professor T. Kato, the team showed easy and scalable fabrication of semitransparent and flexible solar cells using transition metal dichalcogenides (TMDs) -- an atomically thin 2D material. Using a Schottky-type configuration, power conversion efficiency can be increased up to 0.7%, which is the highest value reported with few-layered TMDs. Clear power generation was also observed for a device fabricated on a large transparent and flexible substrate.

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