How do you create extremely thin, flexible, yet strong structures? Scientists have been working for some time on “stacking” layers of 2D materials, or materials that are just one atom thick, to create ultrathin devices.

Now scientists from the University of Manchester have been exploring techniques to stack several layers of materials, including graphene, to create photoactive structures – in other words, extremely thin, efficient solar cells. Their method could be used to create solar coatings or paint for buildings.

Solutions that lead to the development of lighter, thinner technologies have the potential to reduce resource use significantly - just think about the difference in mass between a layer of paint and a typical solar cell. For more developments in graphene research, explore the University of Manchester's research hub.