Carbon electrodes could soon be used to store solar energy.
At the University of Washington, the team is developing electrodes that can capture and release electrons when sunlight hits them, and store that energy for use later.
“We’re developing a carbon electrode that can be used in solar cells that can actually capture solar energy when sunlight strikes,” says study coauthor Dr. Michael Wiebe, a UW associate professor of electrical and computer engineering.
“This would be the first time that carbon electrodes have been used in a solar-energy system.”
Wieb, who also directs the UW Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, says the team has developed an electrode that could be used for storage of sunlight energy that can also be used later.
The electrode is about the size of a postage stamp, and the team hopes it could be installed on a chip, or “wire,” for solar-cell power generation.
“You could have a battery that’s able to store the energy that it gets from sunlight and then you can charge it when it’s needed,” Wiea said.
“That’s what we’re trying to accomplish.”
The research was published in the journal ACS Nano.
Carbon electrode and battery technologies The researchers are also looking into how to make a device that can convert sunlight into electricity, Wiebi says.
He says the technology could potentially be used on solar panels to store energy.
“The electrode could be a small, flexible piece that would be attached to the surface of a solar cell and used to capture solar photons, convert those photons into electricity and then transfer that electricity back to the sun,” Wierb said.
For now, the researchers are using carbon electrodes on their solar cells, but they also plan to work on an electrode for batteries that could use the same concept.
“Ultimately we’re looking at batteries that are able to use carbon electrodes to store electricity that then goes back to a solar panel,” Wiese said.