Researchers at Queensland University of Technology (QUT) have developed new carbon nanotubes from human hair that can act as a shield on solar cells and improve the function of these panels.
In a study published in the Journal of Materials Chemistry A, researchers Explained How carbon nanotubes can be used to improve the function of perovskite solar cells. These cells are the new generation of solar technologies that are cheaper and easier to mass produce.
Unlike silicon solar cells, perovskite is made of a compound that is simple to produce and highly flexible, meaning it can be used in many new fields, including solar clothing and tents.
Last year, another group of researchers turned human hair into carbon nanotubes and used it to make old displays. Researchers at Queensland University of Technology are now using the same technology on perovskite solar cells. The team found that by adding carbon dots to the perovskite fabrication process, a wave-shaped layer of perovskite was formed that actually surrounded the perovskite crystals with carbon nanoparticles.
“This method creates a kind of protective layer or a kind of shield,” said Professor Wang, the study’s lead researcher, in a press release. “This layer protects the perovskite material from moisture or other environmental factors that can be harmful.”
Strengthen solar panels for space travel
Researchers have found that when perovskite solar cells are protected by carbon nanoparticles, their power transfer rate efficiency and stability increase compared to perovskite cells without carbon dots. “This achievement could extend the life of perovskite cells by 20 years or more and remove one of the barriers to their commercial production,” said Professor Wang.
Professor Wang believes that these solar panels can be used in spacecraft. The International Space Station currently uses four arrays of solar cells that can generate up to 120 kilowatts of electricity. However, current consumer technology is heavy and its movement in space makes our work difficult.
Perovskite cells can be very useful for future space travel because they weigh much less and do not slow down the spacecraft. Although more research is needed, Professor Wang says he is very optimistic about the future as the technology progresses. Maybe in the end, this simple hair is the key to achieving the next generation of solar technologies.