A new study finds that by combining graphene with metallic nanostructures, there was a 20-fold enhancement in the amount of light the graphene could harvest and convert into electrical power. The team (which included last year's Nobel Prize-winning scientists Andre Geim and Kostya Novoselov) says that these new graphene cell devices can be incredibly fast - tens or potentially hundreds of times faster than communication rates in the fastest Internet cables currently in use. The problem was the cell devices' low efficiency as graphene absorbs very little light (around 3%).
They now found that this problem can be solved by combining graphene with tiny metallic structures known as plasmonic nanostructures, which are specially arranged on top of graphene. The light-harvesting performance of graphene was boosted by 20 times without sacrificing any of its speed.