'Oscar Madison' approach to solar cells may outshine 'Felix Unger' design

Sep 12, 2011

Sometimes neatness may not be necessary. Researchers have demonstrated that a tangled coating of randomly positioned nanowires can increase solar cell efficiency by absorbing more light.

In the race to enhance the efficiency of solar cells, spending the time and effort to get tiny nanowires to line up neatly on the top of ordinary may not be worth the effort.

An international team of researchers has for the first time demonstrated that random, haphazardly grown silicon nanowires can significantly boost the power-producing capabilities of by trapping a broad spectrum of and capturing sunlight streaming in from a wide variety of angles.

The nanowires, which are wrapped in a shell of , serve as an antireflective coating on top of the usually shiny silicon wafer. The scraggly tangle captures light ranging in color from red to violet, and the random orientation of the wires means the coating would continue to absorb light even as the angle of the Sun changes throughout the day. The researchers fabricated the jumbled, yet effective, antireflective coating by vaporizing silicon powder and then depositing it on top of a silicon wafer.

The process, described in the AIP's new journal AIP Advances, is relatively inexpensive and could be scaled up for large manufacturing operations. For future work the team plans to create structures that are more ordered to test if the messy arrangement really is better.

Explore further: In-situ nanoindentation study of phase transformation in magnetic shape memory alloys

More information: “Graded index and randomly oriented core-shell silicon nanowires for broadband and wide angle antireflection” by P. Pignalosa et al. is published in AIP Advances.

Provided by American Institute of Physics

5 /5 (2 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Trapping Sunlight with Silicon Nanowires

Mar 03, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Berkeley Lab researchers have found a better way to trap light in photovoltaic cells through the use of vertical arrays of silicon nanowires. This could substantially cut the costs of solar ...

Nanostructures improve solar cell efficiency

May 26, 2011

To make solar cells a competitive alternative to other renewable energy sources, researchers are investigating different alternatives. A step in the right direction is through new processes that change the ...

Recommended for you

'Exotic' material is like a switch when super thin

Apr 18, 2014

(Phys.org) —Ever-shrinking electronic devices could get down to atomic dimensions with the help of transition metal oxides, a class of materials that seems to have it all: superconductivity, magnetoresistance ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...