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UC San Diego nanostructures will raise thin-film solar cell efficiency
Date:5/15/2008

dd quantum wells to thin-film solar cell devices by stacking several quantum-well layers to achieve a high probability of absorption of low-energy photons. This approach, however, can be counter productive because electron-hole pairs get stuck in the quantum wells, making it impossible for them to generate current for the device.

The UC San Diego engineers are using nanoparticles to scatter incoming light into paths within the quantum well region paths that run parallel to the p-n junction. This gives photons more time to be absorbed without having to stack the quantum wells to a thickness that makes it hard for electrons and holes to escape.

Our devices have a much thinner stack of quantum wells, which means the extra photons that are absorbed are much more likely to make it out of the quantum wells and generate current, explained Edward Yu. This enables high photon absorption efficiency, high electron and hole collection efficiency and therefore also high voltage to be achieved simultaneously.

In the UCSD approach, the photons are provided with a long path along the quantum wells and the carriers have a short path to the electrode. This design maximizes photon absorption while minimizing a major drain on device efficiency in solar cells electron-hole recombination.

We have already demonstrated the basic concepts in thin-film devices. I think it will take a few years to see how far this approach can be pushed to achieve really high efficiency because there are many aspects that have yet to be optimized, said Yu.


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

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