Growing graphene on silver could improve solar cells


Graphene is an amazing material, but it has its flaws. Electricity can run through it at super-fast speeds, but graphene in its natural form can’t start and stop its flow, limiting its use for applications like solar cells.

One potential fix is to pair it with other materials, creating a hybrid that borrows needed characteristics from both ingredients.

A Northwestern University graduate student recently discovered a way to combine graphene with silver, which has interesting optical properties and is already widely used in solar cells. Pairing the two up until now eluded scientists because silver is not compatible with the most common technique for making graphene.

Though there are other existing and emerging approaches, graphene is generally made in an oven stocked with gases like methane and propane. At high temperatures, graphene naturally pulls out of the gases and deposits itself in sheets on copper placed in the oven…

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