Researchers at IISER used human hair to produce cathodes for solar cells

Researchers at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) in Kolkata have found a new way to produce cathodes for solar cell.

The IISER researchers have used human hair to produce cost-effective, metal-free cathodes for use in solar cells.

The results have been published in the journal Carbon.

This is the first time where a bio-waste-derived electrode has been used as cathode in a quantum dot sensitised solar cell device.

Key highlights

 The graphitic porous carbon cathode shows an impressive performance to help converting visible sunlight to electricity, which is much higher than commercially available activated carbon cathodes.

 It offers higher efficiency to convert visible sunlight to electricity.

 The cathode was found to generate high open-circuit voltage, which is at par with conventional platinum and activated carbon cathodes.

 Producing graphitic porous carbon cathode using human hair is also simple, quick and inexpensive.

 Unlike in the case of other synthetic porous carbons, no physical or chemical activation process or templates were required to produce the pores of 2-50 nanometres diameter.

 The porosity, along with high surface area to volume ratio, plays an important role in adsorption-desorption of electrolyte.

 The cleaned and dry human hair was first treated with sulphuric acid at 165 degrees C for 25 minutes to achieve precarbonisation.

 It was then heated to different temperatures in the presence of an inert gas for six hours to carbonise and bring better electrical conductivity for efficient charge transfer.


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