December 15, 2008

Nanocones soak up sunlight

Shape the surface of an amorphous silicon solar cell into a forest of microscopic cones and you can make the cells absorb twice the sunlight.

The nanocones let the layer of the cell that absorbs light double as an antireflective coating. The nanocones absorb more than 90 percent of light at angles up to 60 degrees. Ordinary amorphous silicon thin films absorb only 45 percent, and silicon nanowire arrays only 70 percent.

The nanocones reduce reflection and their tapered shape helps transmit light across the boundary between air and silicon.

Research paper:
Optical Absorption Enhancement in Amorphous Silicon Nanowire and Nanocone Arrays
Nano Letters, published online December 10, 2008

Researchers' homepages:
Yi Cui Group
Fan Group
McGehee Group
Yueqin Xu
Qi Wang

Related stories and briefs:
Coating passes more light to solar cells -- related research
Bugs inspire better solar cell coatings -- related research

Back to ERN December 15/22, 2008



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