IISER researchers use human hair to produce cheaper cathodes for solar cells

Researchers from Kolkata based Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) have produced cost-effective, metal-free cathodes using human hair for use in solar cells.

Significance: This is the first instance where a bio-waste-derived electrode (in this case human hair) has been used as cathode in a quantum dot sensitised solar cell device.

Key Facts

  • IISER researchers have developed graphitic porous carbon cathode by cleaning and drying human hair and treating with sulphuric acid to achieve precarbonisation.
  • It was then heated at different temperatures in the presence of inert gas for six hours to carbonise and bring better electrical conductivity for efficient charge transfer.
  • This efficient green cathode achieves highly catalytic graphitic porous carbon stage at optimum temperature of 850 degrees C.

Advantages

  • Producing graphitic porous carbon cathode using human hair is simple, quick and inexpensive. It has potential to bring down the cost of solar cells.
  • The bio-waste-derived cathode has higher efficiency to convert visible sunlight to electricity. It also enhances the power conversion efficiencies.
  • It generates high open-circuit voltage compared to conventional platinum and activated carbon cathodes.
  • It is metal-free cathode, while commonly used cathode is made of platinum metal and metal sulfides.

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Categories: Science and Technology Current Affairs - 2017

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