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Images of particles made from a promising battery cathode material called NMC

Manufacturable Nanostructured Solar Cells with Efficient Light Trapping and Charge Carrier Collection

Global Climate and Energy Project

Yi Cui, materials science and engineering; Shanhui Fan, electrical engineering

Photovoltaics, which utilizes the largest possible energy source to generate electricity, represents one of the most attractive approaches towards renewable energy future. However, the cost of current solar electricity is still too high. Future photovoltaic technologies need to have high power conversion efficiency and can be fabricated with low cost. In this project, we propose novel nanocone and nanodome-like solar cells, which can reduce the cost while enhancing the power efficiency. We design by photonics simulation and fabricate subwavelength inorganic nanostructured substrate, on which solar cell layers can be deposited. We will study our light trapping device concept on solar absorber materials. Our device concept for light trapping is general and is expected to reduce the amount of materials needed, to increase manufacturing throughput and to reduce the capital cost which will be able to reduce the solar cell production cost significantly while still maintaining high efficiency. Our proposed research can lead to important fundamental understanding of photon management in photovoltaics and to the fundamental design of high efficiency solar cells.