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Power Hardware Science

Graphene Creates Electricity When Struck By Light 132

MrSeb writes with news out of MIT about another interesting and potentially useful property of graphene. Researchers have known for several years that graphene generates electricity when exposed to sunlight, but incorrectly attributed it to the photovoltaic effect. A new paper shows that the current is actually generated from the much more unusual 'hot-carrier' response. Quoting: "The material’s electrons, which carry current, are heated by the light, but the lattice of carbon nuclei that forms graphene’s backbone remains cool. It’s this difference in temperature within the material that produces the flow of electricity. ... Such differential heating has been observed before, but only under very special circumstances: either at ultralow temperatures (measured in thousandths of a degree above absolute zero), or when materials are blasted with intense energy from a high-power laser. This response in graphene, by contrast, occurs across a broad range of temperatures all the way up to room temperature, and with light no more intense than ordinary sunlight." It will take more work to determine what new applications are reasonable from an efficiency perspective, but it does broaden graphene's already-impressive capabilities.
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Graphene Creates Electricity When Struck By Light

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  • Again? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by mswhippingboy ( 754599 ) on Friday October 07, 2011 @01:49PM (#37641422)
    Every other day there is a story on /. about some new technique or material that can solve the energy crisis. This has been going on for years. Why do these never, ever come to fruition?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 07, 2011 @01:53PM (#37641484)

    This has absolutely nothing to do with light, and instead has absolutely incredible implications for power generation. Graphene geothermal probes for more efficiency, graphene cooling tubes for maximum gas/oil/coal electric power generation, nuclear power (bonus: extra radiation protection)... Hell, strap graphene to just about any process that involves waste heat and get power for "free!"

Fear is the greatest salesman. -- Robert Klein