MIT researchers: Graphene may be the next big thing in solar

The next big thing in solar energy just might be graphene. It’s early, but researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have found that the carbon-based material shows off an unusual reaction to light, raising the possibility that it could be useful for night-vision systems, photodetectors and generating electricity from sunlight.

The MIT News Office today provided a glimpse into work done by researchers at MIT and the National Institute for Materials Science in Japan. Their paper is being published by the journal Science.

Graphene is a form of carbon based on sheets that a only one atom thick.

According to the researchers, shining light on a sheet of graphene that has been treated to establish two regions with different electrical properties creates a temperature difference and a subsequent electrical current.

“Our work is mostly fundamental physics,” said senior author on the paper and assistant professor of physics at MIT Pablo Jarillo-Herrero. “Many people believe that graphene could be used for a whole variety of applications.”

Other potential applications include detecting disease or food contamination.

From the Boston Business Journal.

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