Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors





Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


DHgate

Home > Press > Nanowires could be solution for high performance solar cells

InGaAs solar cells Graphic by Xiuling Li

InGaAs: Solar cells (bottom) made with arrays of nanowires. Engineers can tune the performance by using nanowires of differing composition and thickness (top).
InGaAs solar cells Graphic by Xiuling Li

InGaAs: Solar cells (bottom) made with arrays of nanowires. Engineers can tune the performance by using nanowires of differing composition and thickness (top).

Abstract:
Tiny wires could help engineers realize high-performance solar cells and other electronics, according to University of Illinois researchers.

Nanowires could be solution for high performance solar cells

Champaign, IL | Posted on November 8th, 2011

The research group, led by electrical and computer engineering professor Xiuling Li, developed a technique to integrate compound semiconductor nanowires on silicon wafers, overcoming key challenges in device production. The team published its results in the journal Nano Letters.

Semiconductors in the III-V (pronounced three-five) group are promising for devices that change light to electricity and vice-versa, such as high-end solar cells or lasers. However, they don't integrate with silicon seamlessly, which is a problem since silicon is the most ubiquitous device platform. Each material has a specific distance between the atoms in the crystal, known as the lattice constant.

"The biggest challenge has been that III-V semiconductors and silicon do not have the same lattice constants," Li said. "They cannot be stacked on top of each other in a straightforward way without generating dislocations, which can be thought of as atomic scale cracks."

When the crystal lattices don't line up, there is a mismatch between the materials. Researchers usually deposit III-V materials on top of silicon wafers in a thin film that covers the wafer, but the mismatch causes strain and introduces defects, degrading the device performance.

Instead of a thin film, the Illinois team grew a densely packed array of nanowires, tiny strands of III-V semiconductor that grow up vertically from the silicon wafer.

"The nanowire geometry offers a lot more freedom from lattice-matching restrictions by dissipating the mismatch strain energy laterally through the sidewalls," Li said.

The researchers found conditions for growing nanowires of various compositions of the III-V semiconductor indium gallium arsenide. Their methodology has the advantages of using a common growth technique without the need for any special treatments or patterning on the silicon wafer or the metal catalysts that are often needed for such reactions.

The nanowire geometry provides the additional benefit of enhancing solar cell performance through greater light absorption and carrier collection efficiency. The nanowire approach also uses less material than thin films, reducing the cost.

"This work represents the first report on ternary semiconductor nanowire arrays grown on silicon substrates, that are truly epitaxial, controllable in size and doping, high aspect ratio, non-tapered, and broadly tunable in energy for practical device integration," said Li, who is affiliated with the Micro and Nanotechnology Laboratory, the Frederick Seitz Materials Research Laboratory and the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at the U. of I.

Li believes the nanowire approach could be applied broadly to other semiconductors, enabling other applications that have been deterred by mismatch concerns. Next, Li and her group hope soon to demonstrate nanowire-based multi-junction tandem solar cells with high quality and efficiency.

The Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation supported this work. Other faculty involved in the project are materials science and engineering professors Jian-Min Zuo and John A. Rogers at the U. of I., and professor Cun-Zeng Ning, at Arizona State University. Jae Cheol Shin, a former postdoctoral researcher with Li, is the first author.

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Liz Ahlberg
Physical Sciences Editor
217-244-1073

Copyright © University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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

Solid state physics: Quantum matter stuck in unrest August 1st, 2015

Self-assembling, biomimetic membranes may aid water filtration August 1st, 2015

Transparent, electrically conductive network of encapsulated silver nanowires: A novel electrode for optoelectronics August 1st, 2015

Kalam: versatility personified August 1st, 2015

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

Self-assembling, biomimetic membranes may aid water filtration August 1st, 2015

Kalam: versatility personified August 1st, 2015

Heating and cooling with light leads to ultrafast DNA diagnostics July 31st, 2015

Theoretical Physicists at Freie Universitšt Berlin Develop New Insights into Interface between Classical and Quantum Worlds July 31st, 2015

Nanoelectronics

Superfast fluorescence sets new speed record: Plasmonic device has speed and efficiency to serve optical computers July 27th, 2015

Spintronics: Molecules stabilizing magnetism: Organic molecules fixing the magnetic orientation of a cobalt surface/ building block for a compact and low-cost storage technology/ publication in Nature Materials July 25th, 2015

ORNL researchers make scalable arrays of 'building blocks' for ultrathin electronics July 22nd, 2015

An easy, scalable and direct method for synthesizing graphene in silicon microelectronics: Korean researchers grow 4-inch diameter, high-quality, multi-layer graphene on desired silicon substrates, an important step for harnessing graphene in commercial silicon microelectronics July 21st, 2015

Discoveries

Solid state physics: Quantum matter stuck in unrest August 1st, 2015

Self-assembling, biomimetic membranes may aid water filtration August 1st, 2015

Transparent, electrically conductive network of encapsulated silver nanowires: A novel electrode for optoelectronics August 1st, 2015

Heating and cooling with light leads to ultrafast DNA diagnostics July 31st, 2015

Announcements

Self-assembling, biomimetic membranes may aid water filtration August 1st, 2015

Transparent, electrically conductive network of encapsulated silver nanowires: A novel electrode for optoelectronics August 1st, 2015

Harris & Harris Group Portfolio Company, HZO, Announces Partnerships with Dell and Motorola August 1st, 2015

Advances and Applications in Biosensing, Sensor Power, and Sensor R&D to be Covered at Sensors Global Summit August 1st, 2015

Energy

Transparent, electrically conductive network of encapsulated silver nanowires: A novel electrode for optoelectronics August 1st, 2015

Springer and Tsinghua University Press present the second Nano Research Award: Paul Alivisatos of the University of California Berkeley receives the honor for outstanding contributions in nanoscience July 30th, 2015

Controlling Dynamic Behavior of Carbon Nanosheets in Structures Made Possible July 30th, 2015

March 2016; 6th Int'l Conference on Nanostructures in Iran July 29th, 2015

Research partnerships

Newly-Developed Polymers Control Size of Nanoparticles during Production Process July 30th, 2015

Meet the high-performance single-molecule diode: Major milestone in molecular electronics scored by Berkeley Lab and Columbia University team July 29th, 2015

Spintronics: Molecules stabilizing magnetism: Organic molecules fixing the magnetic orientation of a cobalt surface/ building block for a compact and low-cost storage technology/ publication in Nature Materials July 25th, 2015

Stretching the limits on conducting wires July 25th, 2015

Solar/Photovoltaic

Transparent, electrically conductive network of encapsulated silver nanowires: A novel electrode for optoelectronics August 1st, 2015

Springer and Tsinghua University Press present the second Nano Research Award: Paul Alivisatos of the University of California Berkeley receives the honor for outstanding contributions in nanoscience July 30th, 2015

Reshaping the solar spectrum to turn light to electricity: UC Riverside researchers find a way to use the infrared region of the sun's spectrum to make solar cells more efficient July 27th, 2015

Rice University finding could lead to cheap, efficient metal-based solar cells: Plasmonics study suggests how to maximize production of 'hot electrons' July 22nd, 2015

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