A `smart wallpaper’ that absorbs light, heat could power homes

Scientists have developed new moth-inspired, ultra-thin graphene sheets which can be used in `smart wallpapers’ that could generate electricity from waste light or heat, and power a host of applications at home.

Using a technique known as Nano texturing, which involves growing graphene around a textured metallic surface, researchers from the University of Surrey in UK took inspiration from nature to create ultra-thin graphene sheets designed to more effectively capture light.

Just one atom thick, graphene is very strong but traditionally inefficient at light absorption. To combat this, the team used the nano-patterning to localise light into the narrow spaces between the extured surface, enhancing he amount of light absorbed by the material by about 90%.

Graphene has already been noted for its remarkable electrical conductivity and mechanical strength.

Researchers understood hat for graphene’s potential to be realised as material for future applications, it should also harness light and heat effectively. “Solar cells coated with this material would be able to harvest very dim light,” Silva said.

“Installed indoors, as part of future `smart wallpaper’ or `smart window’, this material could generate electricity from waste light or heat, powering a numerous array of smart applications,” said Ravi Silva, head of the University of Surrey’s Advanced Technology Institutehe said. “New types of sensors and energy harvesters connected through Internet of Things would also benefit from this type of coating.” he said.