Scientist Demonstrates Potential of Nano-Carbon in Photodetectors

20 August 2013

An assistant professor of chemistry at the University of Kansas has taken time to enhance the profile of nano-carbon photovoltaic (PV) technology and foster knowledge about nano-carbon used in photodetectors by demonstrating how individual nano-carbon allotrope components react to light.

Shenquang Ren has published his report in the Advanced Materials journal to highlight the need for using new materials in modern electronic devices as silicon transistors gradually head to their phase-out. Electronic devices are now increasingly widespread, getting smaller and smarter every year, with silicon being no longer able to meet today's miniaturization requirements. Electronics such as photovoltaic panels, transparent conductors, capacitors, transistors and photodetectors now need smaller components such as single-walled carbon nanotubes, fullerene and graphene derivatives, he states.

The photodetectors tested consist of semiconducting single-walled carbon nanotubes fabricated by Ren, who deployed a combinatorial method to map their parameters and bolster the performance of power harvesting and sensing devices. The scientist will now use the results from the experiment to create nano-carbon photovoltaics that boast high efficiency, he said.

Ren wanted to prove the efficiency of broad-spectral PV photodetectors across the spectrum, saying they have the ability to improve the work of widespread devices such as laptops and mobile phones thanks to their phenomenal electrical, optical, electrochemical, thermal and mechanical properties. They could be applied in renewable energy and future electronics and could also provide benefits to the defense industry.

Compared with silicon, nanocarbon is much more environmentally friendly and costs less. According to Ren, electronics applied in broad-spectral-response nanocarbon bulk heterojunction excitonic photodetectors would cause less harm to the planet.