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Nano Lett. 2009 May;9(5):2183-7. doi: 10.1021/nl900858v.

Coaxial group III-nitride nanowire photovoltaics.

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  • 1Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138, USA.


Coaxial core/shell nanowires represent an important class of nanoscale building blocks with substantial potential for exploring new concepts and materials for solar energy conversion. Here, we report the first experimental realization of coaxial group III-nitride nanowire photovoltaic (PV) devices, n-GaN/i-In(x)Ga(1-x)N/p-GaN, where variation of indium mole fraction is used to control the active layer band gap and hence light absorption. Current-voltage data reveal clear diode characteristics with ideality factors from 3.9 to 5.6. Electroluminescence measurements demonstrate tunable emission from 556 to 371 nm and thus confirm band gap variations in the In(x)Ga(1-x)N active layer from 2.25 to 3.34 eV as In composition is varied. Simulated one-sun AM 1.5G illumination yielded open-circuit voltages (V(oc)) from 1.0 to 2.0 V and short-circuit current densities (J(sc)) from 0.39 to 0.059 mA/cm(2) as In composition is decreased from 0.27 to 0 and a maximum efficiency of approximately 0.19%. The n-GaN/i-In(x)Ga(1-x)N/p-GaN nanowire devices are highly robust and exhibit enhanced efficiencies for concentrated solar light illuminations as well as single nanowire J(sc) values as high as 390 mA/cm(2) under intense short-wavelength illumination. The ability to rationally tune the structure and composition of these core/shell III-nitride nanowires will make them a powerful platform for exploring nanoenabled PVs in the future.

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