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Nano Lett. 2010 Jun 9;10(6):1979-84. doi: 10.1021/nl9034237.

Nanodome solar cells with efficient light management and self-cleaning.

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  • 1Department of Electrical Engineering, Stanford University, Stanford, California 94305, USA.


Here for the first time, we demonstrate novel nanodome solar cells, which have periodic nanoscale modulation for all layers from the bottom substrate, through the active absorber to the top transparent contact. These devices combine many nanophotonic effects to both efficiently reduce reflection and enhance absorption over a broad spectral range. Nanodome solar cells with only a 280 nm thick hydrogenated amorphous silicon (a-Si:H) layer can absorb 94% of the light with wavelengths of 400-800 nm, significantly higher than the 65% absorption of flat film devices. Because of the nearly complete absorption, a very large short-circuit current of 17.5 mA/cm(2) is achieved in our nanodome devices. Excitingly, the light management effects remain efficient over a wide range of incident angles, favorable for real environments with significant diffuse sunlight. We demonstrate nanodome devices with a power efficiency of 5.9%, which is 25% higher than the flat film control. The nanodome structure is not in principle limited to any specific material system and its fabrication is compatible with most solar manufacturing; hence it opens up exciting opportunities for a variety of photovoltaic devices to further improve performance, reduce materials usage, and relieve elemental abundance limitations. Lastly, our nanodome devices when modified with hydrophobic molecules present a nearly superhydrophobic surface and thus enable self-cleaning solar cells.

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