Researchers at the University of Exeter – United Kingdom – have developed a new photoelectric device that is both flexible and transparent. The device, described in a paper in the journal ACS Nano, converts light into electrical signals by exploiting the unique properties of the recently discovered materials graphene and graphExeter. GraphExeter is the best known room temperature transparent conductor and graphene is the thinnest conductive material. At just a few atoms thick, the newly developed photoelectric device is ultra-lightweight. This, along with the flexibility of its constituent graphene materials, makes it perfect for incorporating into clothing. Such devices could be used to develop photovoltaic textiles enabling clothes to act as solar panels and charge mobile phones while they are being worn.
Saverio Russo, Professor of Physics at the University of Exeter said: “This new flexible and transparent photosensitive device uses graphene and graphExeter to convert light into electrical signals with efficiency comparable to that found in opaque devices based on graphene and metals.
“We are only just starting to explore the interfaces between different materials at very small scales and, as this research shows, we are revealing unique properties that we never knew existed. Who knows what surprises are just around the corner.”