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Nano Lett. 2009 Jan;9(1):279-82. doi: 10.1021/nl802886y.

Optical absorption enhancement in amorphous silicon nanowire and nanocone arrays.

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  • 1Department of Electrical Engineering, Department of Applied Physics, Department of Materials Science and Engineering, and Department of Chemistry, Stanford University, Stanford, California 94305, USA.


Hydrogenated amorphous Si (a-Si:H) is an important solar cell material. Here we demonstrate the fabrication of a-Si:H nanowires (NWs) and nanocones (NCs), using an easily scalable and IC-compatible process. We also investigate the optical properties of these nanostructures. These a-Si:H nanostructures display greatly enhanced absorption over a large range of wavelengths and angles of incidence, due to suppressed reflection. The enhancement effect is particularly strong for a-Si:H NC arrays, which provide nearly perfect impedance matching between a-Si:H and air through a gradual reduction of the effective refractive index. More than 90% of light is absorbed at angles of incidence up to 60 degrees for a-Si:H NC arrays, which is significantly better than NW arrays (70%) and thin films (45%). In addition, the absorption of NC arrays is 88% at the band gap edge of a-Si:H, which is much higher than NW arrays (70%) and thin films (53%). Our experimental data agree very well with simulation. The a-Si:H nanocones function as both absorber and antireflection layers, which offer a promising approach to enhance the solar cell energy conversion efficiency.

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