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Paint And Cell Phones Could Generate Energy From The Sun Using Graphene, Scientists Say [VIDEO]

May 03, 2013 11:52 AM EDT
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Forget solar panels – the buildings of the future will be powered by their paint if the scientists at the University of Manchester have anything to do with it.

The team is using wafers of graphene, a discovery that won the researchers the Nobel Prize, with thin layers of other materials to produce a paper-thin and flexible surface that converts sunlight into energy at a level rivaling solar panels.

Graphene is a two-dimensional material that consists of a single layer of carbon atoms arranged in a honeycomb or chicken wire structure and is the thinnest material known as well as the strongest.

Furthermore, the material is able to conduct electricity as efficiently as copper while outperforming all other materials as a conductor of heat. Almost completely transparent, graphene is so dense that even the smallest atom helium cannot pass through it.

First revealed in its current form in 2004, scientists are ready to take the technology further not only through a paint that could be put on the outside of buildings in order to power its appliances (not to mention change color) but, according to The Telegraph, to develop a new generation of super-thin, hand-held devices like mobile phones that could be powered by sunlight.

“We have been trying to go beyond graphene by combining it with other one-atom thick materials,” Professor Kostya Novoselov, one of graphene’s discoverers, told The Telegraph.

By combining different layers of materials one on top of the other, Novoselov said they have been developing a new type of material with its own unique set of properties.

“It is like a book – one page contains some information but together the book is so much more,” he said.

Ultimately, the scientist explained, the effects of their work “would go much further than simple solar-powered cells.”

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