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Nanowires may boost solar cell efficiency, UC San Diego engineers say
Date:5/14/2008

University of California, San Diego electrical engineers have created experimental solar cells spiked with nanowires that could lead to highly efficient thin-film solar cells of the future.

Indium phosphide (InP) nanowires can serve as electron superhighways that carry electrons kicked loose by photons of light directly to the devices electron-attracting electrode and this scenario could boost thin-film solar cell efficiency, according to research recently published in NanoLetters.

The new design increases the number of electrons that make it from the light-absorbing polymer to an electrode. By reducing electron-hole recombination, the UC San Diego engineers have demonstrated a way to increases the efficiency with which sunlight can be converted to electricity in thin-film photovoltaics.

Including nanowires in the experimental solar cell increased the forward bias current which is a measure of electrical current by six to seven orders of magnitude as compared to their polymer-only control device, the engineers found.

The online journal NanoLetters published this new work on polymer/nanowire hybrid photovoltaics in February 2008.

If you provide electrons with a defined pathway to the electrode, you can reduce some of the inefficiencies that currently plague thin-film solar cells made from polymer mixtures. More efficient transport of electrons and holes collectively known as carriers is critical for creating more efficient solar cells, said Clint Novotny the first author of the NanoLetters paper, and a recent electrical engineering Ph.D. from UC San Diegos Jacobs School of Engineering. Novotny is now working on solar technologies at BAE Systems.

Keep reading for more details on this project. To learn about another hot solar cell research on the nano-scale from electrical engineers at UC San Diego go to:

Contact: Daniel Kane
dbkane@ucsd.edu
858-534-3262
University of California - San Diego
Source:Eurekalert  

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