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Published January 16, 2014 | public
Journal Article

Silicon Microwire Arrays for Solar Energy-Conversion Applications


Highly structured silicon microwire (Si MW) arrays have been synthesized and characterized as absorbers for solar energy-conversion systems. These materials are of great interest for applications in solar energy conversion, including solar electricity and solar fuels production, due to their unique materials properties, form factors, ease of fabrication, and device-processing attributes. The Si MW array geometry allows for efficient collection of photogenerated carriers from impure materials that have short minority-carrier diffusion lengths while simultaneously allowing for high optical absorption and high external quantum yields for charge-carrier collection. In addition, Si MW arrays exhibit unique mesoscale optical behavior and can be removed from the growth substrate to provide flexible, processable arrays of Si microwires ordered in a variety of organic polymers and ionomers. The unique photon-management properties of Si MW arrays, combined with their high internal surface area and controlled morphology for catalyst placement and support, allow for the use of earth-abundant electrocatalysts to produce an integrated, functional photoelectrode. These materials therefore also provide an opportunity to explore the 3-dimensional photoelectrochemical behavior of fuel-forming microstructured electrodes.

Additional Information

© 2013 American Chemical Society. Received: June 25, 2013; Revised: November 1, 2013; Published: December 9, 2013. The authors would like to thank many of the researchers who have contributed to the development of Si MW-based energy conversion devices and the work discussed in this article: Brendan Kayes, Michael Filler, James Maiolo, Joshua Spurgeon, Michael Kelzenberg, Morgan Putnam, Kate Plass, Shannon Boettcher, Daniel Turner-Evans, Hal Emmer, Adele Tamboli, Chris Chen, Elizabeth Santori, Ronald Grimm, Matthew Bierman, Heather Audesirk, Joseph Beardslee, Michael Walter, Chengxiang Xiang, Andrew Meng, Shane Ardo, Robert Coridan, Anna Beck, Ryan Briggs, Clara Cho, Leslie O'Leary, and Matthew Shaner. We acknowledge BP (support for E.L.W.), DOE DE-FG02-03-ER15483, and the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis, DOE DE-SC0004993 (support for N.S.L. and H.A.A.), for financial support that allowed the preparation of this manuscript.

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