Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > Single-crystal films could advance solar cells

Amorphous silicon, deposited on a porous template fills the empty spaces. Laser heating melts the deposit and the top few microns of the silicon substrate. In a few nanoseconds the melted silicon recrystallizes. The substrate acts as a seed crystal for the material above, causing it to crystallize with the same alignment. This makes it easier for electric charges to flow, making possible more efficient solar cells and batteries. Provided/Wiesner lab
Amorphous silicon, deposited on a porous template fills the empty spaces. Laser heating melts the deposit and the top few microns of the silicon substrate. In a few nanoseconds the melted silicon recrystallizes. The substrate acts as a seed crystal for the material above, causing it to crystallize with the same alignment. This makes it easier for electric charges to flow, making possible more efficient solar cells and batteries. Provided/Wiesner lab

Abstract:
Cornell researchers have developed a new method to create a patterned single-crystal thin film of semiconductor material that could lead to more efficient photovoltaic cells and batteries.

By Bill Steele

Single-crystal films could advance solar cells

Ithaca, NY | Posted on October 8th, 2010

The "holy grail" for such applications has been to create on a silicon base, or substrate, a film with a 3-D structure at the nanoscale, with the crystal lattice of the film aligned in the same direction (epitaxially) as in the substrate. Doing so is the culmination of years of research by Uli Wiesner, professor of materials science and engineering, into using polymer chemistry to create nanoscale self-assembling structures.

He and his colleagues report the breakthrough in the Oct. 8 issue of the journal Science. They used the new method to create a film with a raised texture, made up of tiny pillars just a few nanometers across. "Just the ability to make a single-crystal nanostructure has a lot of promise," Wiesner said. "We combine that with the ability of organic polymer materials to self-assemble at the nanoscale into various structures that can be templated into the crystalline material." (A nanometer -- nm -- is a billionth of a meter, about three atoms wide.)

Wiesner's research group previously used self-assembly techniques to create Grńetzel solar cells, which use an organic dye sandwiched between two conductors. Arranging the conductors in a complex 3-D pattern creates more surface area to collect light and allows more efficient charge transport, Wiesner said.

Performance improves the most when the conducting materials are single crystals, Wiesner said. Most techniques for creating such films produce polycrystalline material -- a collection of "grains" or small crystals bunched together at random -- and grain boundaries retard the movement of electric charges, he explained.

Wiesner's method uses block co-polymers to create porous templates into which a new material can flow and crystallize. A polymer consists of organic molecules that link into long chains to form a solid. A block co-polymer is made by joining two different molecules at their ends. When they chain together and are mixed with metal oxides, one forms a nanoscale pattern of repeating geometric shapes, while the other fills the space in between. Burning the polymer away leaves a porous metal oxide nanostructure that can act as a template.

Wiesner's team created a template with hexagonal pores on a silicon single-crystal substrate and deposited films of amorphous silicon or nickel silicide over it. In collaboration with Mike Thompson, associate professor of materials science and engineering, they then heated the silicon surface with very short (nanosecond) laser pulses. This melts the newly deposited layer and the top few microns (millionths of a meter) of the silicon substrate. After only a few tens of nanoseconds the molten silicon recrystallizes with the single crystal silicon substrate acting as a seed crystal to trigger crystallization in the deposited material above it, causing that crystal to line up epitaxially with the seed.

The template is dissolved away, leaving an array of hexagonal pillars about 30 nm across. The team has made porous nanostructured films up to 100 nm thick with other complex shapes. In previous work Wiesner created lattices of cylinders, planes, spheres and complex "gyroids" by varying the composition of co-polymers.

Other materials could be deposited, the researchers said. The goal here, they said, was to demonstrate the formation of film with the same material as the substrate (officially known as homoepitaxy) and with a different material (heteroepitaxy).

In a further proof-of-concept experiment, the researchers showed that the structured thin film could be arranged in micron-scale patterns, as might be necessary in designing an electronic circuit, by laying a mask over the surface before applying laser heating.

"We have essentially gotten to the holy grail," Wiesner said. "It is not only a nanostructured single crystal, but it has an epitaxial relation to the substrate. There is no better control."

The research was supported by the National Science Foundation, Department of Homeland Security and Cornell's Energy Materials Center, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy.

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Media Contact:
Joe Schwartz
(607) 254-6235

Cornell Chronicle:
Bill Steele
(607) 255-7164

Copyright © Cornell University

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

Atomic imperfections move quantum communication network closer to reality June 25th, 2017

Research accelerates quest for quicker, longer-lasting electronics: UC Riverside-led research makes topological insulators magnetic well above room temperatures June 25th, 2017

U.S. Air Force Research Lab Taps IBM to Build Brain-Inspired AI Supercomputing System: Equal to 64 million neurons, new neurosynaptic supercomputing system will power complex AI tasks at unprecedented speed and energy efficiency June 23rd, 2017

Rice U. chemists create 3-D printed graphene foam June 22nd, 2017

Researchers developed nanoparticle based contrast agent for dual modal imaging of cancer June 21st, 2017

Videos/Movies

Tiny bubbles provide tremendous propulsion in new microparticles research-Ben-Gurion U. June 21st, 2017

Graphene and quantum dots put in motion a CMOS-integrated camera that can see the invisible May 29th, 2017

Controlling 3-D behavior of biological cells using laser holographic techniques May 26th, 2017

Zap! Graphene is bad news for bacteria: Rice, Ben-Gurion universities show laser-induced graphene kills bacteria, resists biofouling May 22nd, 2017

Thin films

New prospects for universal memory -- high speed of RAM and the capacity of flash: Thin films created at MIPT could be the basis for future development of ReRAM June 17th, 2017

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

Atomic imperfections move quantum communication network closer to reality June 25th, 2017

Research accelerates quest for quicker, longer-lasting electronics: UC Riverside-led research makes topological insulators magnetic well above room temperatures June 25th, 2017

U.S. Air Force Research Lab Taps IBM to Build Brain-Inspired AI Supercomputing System: Equal to 64 million neurons, new neurosynaptic supercomputing system will power complex AI tasks at unprecedented speed and energy efficiency June 23rd, 2017

Rice U. chemists create 3-D printed graphene foam June 22nd, 2017

Possible Futures

Atomic imperfections move quantum communication network closer to reality June 25th, 2017

Research accelerates quest for quicker, longer-lasting electronics: UC Riverside-led research makes topological insulators magnetic well above room temperatures June 25th, 2017

U.S. Air Force Research Lab Taps IBM to Build Brain-Inspired AI Supercomputing System: Equal to 64 million neurons, new neurosynaptic supercomputing system will power complex AI tasks at unprecedented speed and energy efficiency June 23rd, 2017

Rice U. chemists create 3-D printed graphene foam June 22nd, 2017

Academic/Education

Oxford Instruments congratulates Lancaster University for inaugurating the IsoLab, built for studying quantum systems June 20th, 2017

The 2017 Winners for Generation Nano June 8th, 2017

MIT Energy Initiative awards 10 seed fund grants for early-stage energy research May 4th, 2017

Bar-Ilan University to set up quantum research center May 1st, 2017

Self Assembly

Oddball enzyme provides easy path to synthetic biomaterials May 17th, 2017

Nanotubes that build themselves April 14th, 2017

Nanocages for gold particles: what is happening inside? March 16th, 2017

Most Complex Nanoparticle Crystal Ever Made by Design: Possible applications include controlling light, capturing pollutants, delivering therapeutics March 2nd, 2017

Announcements

Atomic imperfections move quantum communication network closer to reality June 25th, 2017

Research accelerates quest for quicker, longer-lasting electronics: UC Riverside-led research makes topological insulators magnetic well above room temperatures June 25th, 2017

U.S. Air Force Research Lab Taps IBM to Build Brain-Inspired AI Supercomputing System: Equal to 64 million neurons, new neurosynaptic supercomputing system will power complex AI tasks at unprecedented speed and energy efficiency June 23rd, 2017

Rice U. chemists create 3-D printed graphene foam June 22nd, 2017

Energy

Tiny bubbles provide tremendous propulsion in new microparticles research-Ben-Gurion U. June 21st, 2017

Enhanced photocatalytic activity by Cu2O nanoparticles integrated H2Ti3O7 nanotubes June 21st, 2017

Cambridge Nanotherm partners with Inabata for global sales and distribution June 20th, 2017

Development of low-dimensional nanomaterials could revolutionize future technologies June 15th, 2017

Battery Technology/Capacitors/Generators/Piezoelectrics/Thermoelectrics/Energy storage

Rice U. chemists create 3-D printed graphene foam June 22nd, 2017

Smart materials used in ultrasound behave similar to water, Penn chemists report June 16th, 2017

X-ray Study Reveals Way to Control Molecular Vibrations that Transmit Heat: Findings open new pathway for "tuning" materials to ease or insulate against the flow of heat, sound, and other forms of energy June 7th, 2017

Graphene-nanotube hybrid boosts lithium metal batteries: Rice University prototypes store 3 times the energy of lithium-ion batteries May 19th, 2017

Solar/Photovoltaic

Tiny bubbles provide tremendous propulsion in new microparticles research-Ben-Gurion U. June 21st, 2017

Enhanced photocatalytic activity by Cu2O nanoparticles integrated H2Ti3O7 nanotubes June 21st, 2017

Development of low-dimensional nanomaterials could revolutionize future technologies June 15th, 2017

In a project funded by the Austrian Science Fund FWF, the physicist Serdar Sarıšiftši investigates possible uses in electronics of the semiconductor properties of indigo pigment June 14th, 2017

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE



  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project