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Graphene's potential in energy storage and conversion reviewed

Graphene and related materials are being considered as potential replacements for silicon in electronics devices, they are also being researched for solar energy conversion applications. Scientists believe these materials could improve efficiency, reduce production costs and deal with a number of environmental issues.

In particular, 2D crystals are seen to have application as catalysts in dye sensitised solar cells, replacing platinum and bringing a reduction in device cost of four orders-of-magnitude.

Now, scientists working with Europe's Graphene Flagship and the Cambridge Graphene Centre have published a review of the potential for graphene and related materials in energy conversion and storage, claiming substantial progress has been made in material preparation at the laboratory level.

"The huge interest in 2D crystals for energy applications comes both from their physico-chemical properties and the possibility of producing and processing them in large quantities, in a cost-effective manner," said Francesco Bonaccorso, a Royal Society Newton Fellow at the Cambridge Graphene Centre. "In this context, the development of functional inks based on 2D crystals is the gateway for the realisation of new generation electrodes in energy storage and conversion devices."

Bonaccorso said the challenge now is to demonstrate a disruptive technology in which 2D materials not only replace traditional electrodes, but also enable whole new device concepts.

"Graphene and related materials have great promise in these areas and the Graphene Flagship has identified energy applications as a key area of investment," said Professor Andrea Ferrari, director of the Cambridge Graphene Centre. "We hope that our critical overview will guide researchers in academia and industry in identifying optimal pathways toward applications and implementation, with an eventual benefit for society as a whole."

Graham Pitcher

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