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Nanotechnology. 2012 Jun 1;23(21):215206. doi: 10.1088/0957-4484/23/21/215206. Epub 2012 May 3.

Enhanced UV photoresponse of KrF-laser-synthesized single-wall carbon nanotubes/n-silicon hybrid photovoltaic devices.

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Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique, INRS-Énergie, Matériaux et Télécommunications, 1650 Lionel-Boulet, Varennes, QC, J3X-1S2, Canada.


We report on the KrF-laser ablation synthesis, purification and photocurrent generation properties of single-wall carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs). The thermally purified SWCNTs are integrated into hybrid photovoltaic (PV) devices by spin-coating them onto n-Si substrates. These novel SWCNTs/n-Si hybrid devices are shown to generate significant photocurrent (PC) over the entire 250-1050 nm light spectrum with external quantum efficiencies (EQE) reaching up to ~23%. Our SWCNTs/n-Si hybrid devices are not only photoactive in the traditional spectral range of Si solar cells, but generate also significant PC in the UV domain (below 400 nm). This wider spectral response is believed to be the result of PC generation from both the SWCNTs themselves and the tremendous number of local p-n junctions created at the nanotubes/Si interface. To assess the prevalence of these two contributions, the EQE spectra and J-V characteristics of these hybrid devices were investigated in both planar and top-down configurations, as a function of SWCNTs' film thickness. A sizable increase in EQE in the near UV with respect to the silicon is observed in both configurations, with a more pronounced UV photoresponse in the planar mode, confirming thereby the role of SWCNTs in the photogeneration process. The PC generation is found to reach its maximum for an optimal the SWCNT film thickness, which is shown to correspond to the best trade-off between lowest electrical resistance and highest optical transparency. Finally, by analyzing the J-V characteristics of our SWCNTs/n-Si devices with an equivalent circuit model, we were able to point out the contribution of the various electrical components involved in the photogeneration process. The SWCNTs-based devices demonstrated here open up the prospect for their use in highly effective photovoltaics and/or UV-light sensors.

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