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Published March 2011 | Published + Supplemental Material
Journal Article Open

High-performance Si microwire photovoltaics


Crystalline Si wires, grown by the vapor–liquid–solid (VLS) process, have emerged as promising candidate materials for lowcost, thin-film photovoltaics. Here, we demonstrate VLS-grown Si microwires that have suitable electrical properties for high-performance photovoltaic applications, including long minority-carrier diffusion lengths (L_n » 30 µm) and low surface recombination velocities (S « 70 cm·s^(-1)). Single-wire radial p–n junction solar cells were fabricated with amorphous silicon and silicon nitride surface coatings, achieving up to 9.0% apparent photovoltaic efficiency, and exhibiting up to ~600 mV open-circuit voltage with over 80% fill factor. Projective single-wire measurements and optoelectronic simulations suggest that large-area Si wire-array solar cells have the potential to exceed 17% energy-conversion efficiency, offering a promising route toward cost-effective crystalline Si photovoltaics.

Additional Information

© 2011 The Royal Society of Chemistry. Received 12th October 2010, Accepted 24th November 2010. This work was supported by BP and in part by the Department of Energy, Basic Energy Sciences Energy Frontier Research Center program under grant DE-SC0001293 as well as the Department of Energy under grant DE-FG02-07ER46405. The work made use of facilities supported by the Caltech Center for Sustainable Energy Research and by the Center for Science and Engineering of Materials, an NSF Materials Research Science and Engineering Center at Caltech. Research was in part carried out at the Kavli Nanoscience Institute (KNI) and at the Molecular Materials Research Center of the Beckman Institute at Caltech. S.W.B. acknowledges the KNI for fellowship support. D.B.T-E. acknowledges the NSF for fellowship support. The authors acknowledge the assistance of Bruce Brunschwig, Joshua Spurgeon, Emily Warren and the KNI staff.

Attached Files

Published - Kelzenberg2011p13117Energ_Environ_Sci.pdf

Supplemental Material - c0ee00549e.pdf


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