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Curtin University researchers have found applying a thin invisible layer of graphene oxide to silicon forms an impermeable barrier, which could be used to protect artwork, prevent corrosion of metals, and produce higher efficiency solar cells.

Lead author Dr. Nadim Darwish from Curtin's School of Molecular Life Sciences said while protective layers on were already used as an efficiency enhancer in devices such as solar cells and microchips, the procedure for forming these protective coatings was complicated and required highly specialised fabrication laboratories.

"Silicon solar cells often require the application of a layer of alumina, silica or other material to increase their efficiency in transforming sunlight to electricity. Our breakthrough was finding that reacts quickly with silicon without the need for external catalysts, additives or complicated procedures," Dr. Darwish said.

"We found the protects silicon from ambient oxygen for at least 30 days, which is a significant step forward in applying the properties of 2D materials such as graphene and graphene oxide to make silicon even more efficient and useful."

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