Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > Simultaneous Design and Nanomanufacturing Speeds Up Fabrication: Method enhances broadband light absorption in solar cells

A schematic of quasi-random nanowrinkles on the surface of a silicon wafer.
A schematic of quasi-random nanowrinkles on the surface of a silicon wafer.

Abstract:
Design and nanomanufacturing have collided inside a Northwestern University laboratory.

Simultaneous Design and Nanomanufacturing Speeds Up Fabrication: Method enhances broadband light absorption in solar cells

Evanston, IL | Posted on August 5th, 2017

An interdisciplinary team of researchers has used mathematics and machine learning to design an optimal material for light management in solar cells and then fabricated the nanostructured surfaces simultaneously with a new nanomanufacturing technique.

“We have bridged the gap between design and nanomanufacturing,” said Wei Chen, the Wilson-Cook Professor in Engineering Design and professor of mechanical engineering in Northwestern’s McCormick School of Engineering, who led the study’s design component. “Instead of designing a structure element by element, we are now designing and optimizing it with a simple mathematic function and fabricating it at the same time.”

The fast, highly scalable, streamlined method could replace cumbersome trial-and-error nanomanufacturing and design methods, which often take vast resources to complete.

“The concurrent design and processing of nanostructures paves the way to avoid trial-and-error manufacturing, increasing the cost-effectiveness to prototype nanophotonic devices,” said Teri Odom, Charles E. and Emma H. Morrison Professor of Chemistry in Northwestern’s Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and leader of the study’s nanofabrication component.

Researchers are currently interested in nanophotonic materials for light absorption in ultra-thin, flexible solar cells. The same principle could also be applied to implement color into clothing without dyes and to create anti-wet surfaces. For solar cells, the ideal nanostructure surface features quasi-random structures -- meaning the structures appear random but do have a pattern. Designing these patterns can be difficult and time consuming, since there are thousands of geometric variables that must be optimized simultaneously to discover the optimal surface pattern to absorb the most light.

“It is a very tedious job to fabricate the optimal design,” Chen said. “You could use nano-lithography, which is similar to 3-D printing, but it takes days and thousands of dollars just to print a little square. That’s not practical.”

To bypass the issues of nano-lithography, Odom and Chen manufactured the quasi-random structures with wrinkle lithography, a new nanomanufacturing technique that can rapidly transfer wrinkle patterns into different materials to realize a nearly unlimited number of quasi-random nanostructures. Formed by applying strain to a substrate, wrinkling is a simple method for the scalable fabrication of nanoscale surface structures.

“Importantly, the complex geometries can be described computationally with only three parameters -- instead of thousands typically required by other approaches,” Odom said. “We then used the digital designs in an iterative search loop to determine the optimal nanowrinkles for a desired outcome.”

Supported by the National Science Foundation and Office of Naval Research, the research was published online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Won-Kyu Lee, a Ph.D. student in Odom’s laboratory, served as the paper’s first author. Shuangcheng Yu, a Ph.D. student who recently graduated from Chen’s Integrated Design Automation Laboratory (IDEAL), served as the paper’s second author. Lee and Yu contributed equally to the work.

The team demonstrated the concurrent design and manufacturing method to fabricate 3-D photonic nanostructures on a silicon wafer for potential use as a solar cell. The resulting material absorbed 160 percent more light in the 800- to 1,200-nanometer wavelength -- a range in which current solar cells are inefficient -- than other designs.

“Light wavelengths have different frequencies, and we did not design for just one frequency,” Chen said. “We designed for the whole spectrum of sunlight frequencies, so the solar cell can absorb light over broadband wavelengths and over a wide collection of angles.”

Next, the team plans to apply its method to other materials, such as polymers, metals and oxides, for other photonics applications.

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Megan Fellman
847-491-3115

Copyright © Northwestern 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 Links

Download article:

Related News Press

News and information

Silk could improve sensitivity, flexibility of wearable body sensors August 20th, 2017

The power of perovskite: OIST researchers improve perovskite-based technology in the entire energy cycle, from solar cells harnessing power to LED diodes to light the screens of future electronic devices and other lighting applications August 18th, 2017

Gold nanostars and immunotherapy vaccinate mice against cancer: New treatment cures, vaccinates mouse in small proof-of-concept study August 18th, 2017

Researchers printed graphene-like materials with inkjet August 17th, 2017

Possible Futures

Silk could improve sensitivity, flexibility of wearable body sensors August 20th, 2017

The power of perovskite: OIST researchers improve perovskite-based technology in the entire energy cycle, from solar cells harnessing power to LED diodes to light the screens of future electronic devices and other lighting applications August 18th, 2017

Gold nanostars and immunotherapy vaccinate mice against cancer: New treatment cures, vaccinates mouse in small proof-of-concept study August 18th, 2017

Researchers printed graphene-like materials with inkjet August 17th, 2017

Discoveries

Silk could improve sensitivity, flexibility of wearable body sensors August 20th, 2017

The power of perovskite: OIST researchers improve perovskite-based technology in the entire energy cycle, from solar cells harnessing power to LED diodes to light the screens of future electronic devices and other lighting applications August 18th, 2017

Gold nanostars and immunotherapy vaccinate mice against cancer: New treatment cures, vaccinates mouse in small proof-of-concept study August 18th, 2017

Researchers printed graphene-like materials with inkjet August 17th, 2017

Announcements

Silk could improve sensitivity, flexibility of wearable body sensors August 20th, 2017

The power of perovskite: OIST researchers improve perovskite-based technology in the entire energy cycle, from solar cells harnessing power to LED diodes to light the screens of future electronic devices and other lighting applications August 18th, 2017

Gold nanostars and immunotherapy vaccinate mice against cancer: New treatment cures, vaccinates mouse in small proof-of-concept study August 18th, 2017

Researchers printed graphene-like materials with inkjet August 17th, 2017

Interviews/Book Reviews/Essays/Reports/Podcasts/Journals/White papers

Silk could improve sensitivity, flexibility of wearable body sensors August 20th, 2017

The power of perovskite: OIST researchers improve perovskite-based technology in the entire energy cycle, from solar cells harnessing power to LED diodes to light the screens of future electronic devices and other lighting applications August 18th, 2017

Gold nanostars and immunotherapy vaccinate mice against cancer: New treatment cures, vaccinates mouse in small proof-of-concept study August 18th, 2017

Researchers printed graphene-like materials with inkjet August 17th, 2017

Energy

The power of perovskite: OIST researchers improve perovskite-based technology in the entire energy cycle, from solar cells harnessing power to LED diodes to light the screens of future electronic devices and other lighting applications August 18th, 2017

Freeze-dried foam soaks up carbon dioxide: Rice University scientists lead effort to make novel 3-D material August 16th, 2017

Two Scientists Receive Grants to Develop New Materials: Chad Mirkin and Monica Olvera de la Cruz recognized by Sherman Fairchild Foundation August 16th, 2017

Fewer defects from a 2-D approach August 15th, 2017

Photonics/Optics/Lasers

Researchers printed graphene-like materials with inkjet August 17th, 2017

Moving at the Speed of Light: University of Arizona selected for high-impact, industrial demonstration of new integrated photonic cryogenic datalink for focal plane arrays: Program is major milestone for AIM Photonics August 10th, 2017

Sensing technology takes a quantum leap with RIT photonics research: Office of Naval Research funds levitated optomechanics project August 10th, 2017

High resolution without particle accelerator: A first for physics -- University of Jena physicists are first to achieve optical coherence tomography with XUV radiation at laboratory scale August 7th, 2017

Solar/Photovoltaic

The power of perovskite: OIST researchers improve perovskite-based technology in the entire energy cycle, from solar cells harnessing power to LED diodes to light the screens of future electronic devices and other lighting applications August 18th, 2017

Fewer defects from a 2-D approach August 15th, 2017

Controlled manipulation: Scientists at FAU are investigating the properties of hybrid systems consisting of carbon nanostructures and a dye August 8th, 2017

Atomic movies may help explain why perovskite solar cells are more efficient: SLAC's ultrafast 'electron camera' captures surprising atomic motions in these next-generation materials July 28th, 2017

Printing/Lithography/Inkjet/Inks/Bio-printing

Researchers printed graphene-like materials with inkjet August 17th, 2017

Meniscus-assisted technique produces high efficiency perovskite PV films July 7th, 2017

Carbodeon demonstrates NanoDiamond nickel coatings with enhanced tribological properties June 7th, 2017

Liquid metal nano printing set to revolutionize electronics: Creating integrated circuits just atoms thick February 18th, 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