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Nanowires With Promise for Photovoltaics

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9 Author(s)
Borgström, M.T. ; Div. of Solid State Phys., Lund Univ., Lund, Sweden ; Wallentin, Jesper ; Heurlin, M. ; Fält, S.
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Solar energy harvesting for electricity production is regarded as a fully credible future energy source: plentiful and without serious environmental concerns. The breakthrough for solar energy technology implementation has, however, been hampered by two issues: the conversion efficiency of light into electricity and the solar panel production cost. The use of III-V nanowires (NWs) in photovoltaics allows to respond to both these demands. They offer efficient light absorption and significant cost reduction. These low-dimensional structures can be grown epitaxially in dense NW arrays directly on silicon wafers, which are abundant and cheaper than the germanium substrates used for triple-junction solar cells today. For planar structures, lattice matching poses a strong restriction on growth. III-V NWs offer to create highly efficient multijunction devices, since multiple materials can be combined to match the solar spectrum without the need of tightly controlled lattice matching. At the same time, less material is required for NW-based solar cells than for planar-based architecture. This approach has potential to reach more than 50% in efficiency. Here, we describe our work on NW tandem solar cells, aiming toward two junctions absorbing different parts of the solar spectrum, connected in series via a tunnel diode.

Published in:

Selected Topics in Quantum Electronics, IEEE Journal of  (Volume:17 ,  Issue: 4 )

Date of Publication:

July-Aug. 2011

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