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

An EPiQS Pursuit: Physicist Andrea Young is chosen to receive an Experimental Investigator award from the Moore Foundation May 28th, 2020

Study finds electrical fields can throw a curveball: Particle-scale phenomenon akin to the swerving of a curveball could allow selective separation of suspended nanomaterials May 26th, 2020

Surrey reveals its implantable biosensor that operates without batteries May 22nd, 2020

Researchers demonstrate transport of mechanical energy, even through damaged pathways: Topological pump can provide stability for communication technologies May 22nd, 2020

Possible Futures

An EPiQS Pursuit: Physicist Andrea Young is chosen to receive an Experimental Investigator award from the Moore Foundation May 28th, 2020

Study finds electrical fields can throw a curveball: Particle-scale phenomenon akin to the swerving of a curveball could allow selective separation of suspended nanomaterials May 26th, 2020

Visualization of functional components to characterize optimal composite electrodes May 22nd, 2020

Researchers demonstrate transport of mechanical energy, even through damaged pathways: Topological pump can provide stability for communication technologies May 22nd, 2020

Discoveries

Study finds electrical fields can throw a curveball: Particle-scale phenomenon akin to the swerving of a curveball could allow selective separation of suspended nanomaterials May 26th, 2020

MSU scientists solve half-century-old magnesium dimer mystery May 22nd, 2020

Researchers review advances in 3D printing of high-entropy alloys: SUTD collaborates with universities in Singapore and China to shine light on HEA manufacturing processes and inspire further research in this emerging field May 22nd, 2020

A stitch in time: How a quantum physicist invented new code from old tricks: Error suppression opens pathway to universal quantum computing May 22nd, 2020

Announcements

An EPiQS Pursuit: Physicist Andrea Young is chosen to receive an Experimental Investigator award from the Moore Foundation May 28th, 2020

Study finds electrical fields can throw a curveball: Particle-scale phenomenon akin to the swerving of a curveball could allow selective separation of suspended nanomaterials May 26th, 2020

Visualization of functional components to characterize optimal composite electrodes May 22nd, 2020

Researchers demonstrate transport of mechanical energy, even through damaged pathways: Topological pump can provide stability for communication technologies May 22nd, 2020

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

Study finds electrical fields can throw a curveball: Particle-scale phenomenon akin to the swerving of a curveball could allow selective separation of suspended nanomaterials May 26th, 2020

Surrey reveals its implantable biosensor that operates without batteries May 22nd, 2020

Visualization of functional components to characterize optimal composite electrodes May 22nd, 2020

Researchers demonstrate transport of mechanical energy, even through damaged pathways: Topological pump can provide stability for communication technologies May 22nd, 2020

Energy

Oil & gas and automotive sectors will benefit from durable polymers with graphene nanotubes May 14th, 2020

Transporting energy through a single molecular nanowire: Why single wires are superior to bundles May 8th, 2020

Scientists have created new nanocomposite from gold and titanium oxide: Scientists use lasers and gold particles to turn titanium oxide into nanocomposite for photocatalysts May 8th, 2020

Water-splitting module a source of perpetual energy: ‘Artificial leaf’ concept inspires Rice University research into solar-powered fuel production May 4th, 2020

Photonics/Optics/Lasers

Twisting 2D materials uncovers their superpowers: Researchers have developed a completely new method for twisting atomically thin materials, paving the way for applications of 'twistronics' based on tunable 2D materials May 12th, 2020

Engineers and scientists develop mobile technology for eye examinations: Novel photonic integrated technology will bring optical coherence tomography from stationary clinical use to mobile use May 7th, 2020

A combined optical transmitter and receiver: Bidirectional optical signal transmission between two identical devices using perovskite diodes April 3rd, 2020

Light in the tunnel March 26th, 2020

Solar/Photovoltaic

Twisting 2D materials uncovers their superpowers: Researchers have developed a completely new method for twisting atomically thin materials, paving the way for applications of 'twistronics' based on tunable 2D materials May 12th, 2020

Transporting energy through a single molecular nanowire: Why single wires are superior to bundles May 8th, 2020

Scientists have created new nanocomposite from gold and titanium oxide: Scientists use lasers and gold particles to turn titanium oxide into nanocomposite for photocatalysts May 8th, 2020

Water-splitting module a source of perpetual energy: ‘Artificial leaf’ concept inspires Rice University research into solar-powered fuel production May 4th, 2020

Printing/Lithography/Inkjet/Inks/Bio-printing/Dyes

Large scale integrated circuits produced in printing press: All-printed large-scale integrated circuits based on organic electrochemical transistors November 15th, 2019

Highest-throughput 3D printer is future of manufacturing: Rapid manufacturing on-demand could put warehouses, molds into the past October 17th, 2019

Physicists make graphene discovery that could help develop superconductors: Rutgers-led research could reduce energy use, improve electronic devices August 1st, 2019

New record: 3D-printed optical-electronic integration June 18th, 2019

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



  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project