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Copper nanowires could become basis for new solar cells

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Posted April 29, 2014
Copper nanowires could become basis for new solar cells
The schematic illustration of the cross-section and phases observed during copper oxidation. The center photo shows the copper being pushed upward through the grain boundaries to become nano wires.

By looking at a piece of material in cross section, Washington University in St. Louis engineer Parag Banerjee, PhD, and his team discovered how copper sprouts grass-like nanowires that could one day be made into solar cells.

Banerjee, assistant professor of  and an expert in working with nanomaterials, Fei Wu, graduate research assistant, and Yoon Myung, PhD, a postdoctoral research associate, also took a step toward making  and more cost-effective.

Banerjee and his team worked with , a simple material similar to household. When most metals are heated, they form a thick metal oxide film. However, a few metals, such as , iron and zinc, grow grass-like structures known as nanowires, which are long, cylindrical structures a few hundred nanometers wide by many microns tall. They set out to determine how the nanowires grow.

“Other researchers look at these wires from the top down,” Banerjee says. “We wanted to do something different, so we broke our sample and looked at it from the side view to see if we got different information, and we did.”

Read more at: Phys.org

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