December 1, 2008
Plasmons promise more solar
Cut a nanoscopically narrow groove in
a metal surface beneath a nanoscopically thin sheet of silicon and
you can boost the amount of sunlight the silicon absorbs.
The metal groove converts light to surface plasmons, which
are vibrations in the pools of electrons on the metal's surface. Silicon
absorbs plasmons more efficiently than it absorbs light.
One way to improve the mediocre performance of thin-film solar
cells, which are less expensive than traditional solar cells, is to
increase the amount of light they absorb. The light-to-plasmon conversion
also broadens the angle of light the silicon absorbs, which should
increase the amount of daylight silicon solar cells capture.
Nanostructure Design for Efficient Light Coupling into Solar Cells
Nano Letters, published online November 14, 2008
Atwater Research Group,
California Institute of Technology
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