"Plasmonics is a hot and rapidly expanding research field. Of particular interest is the localized surface plasmon resonance (LSPR) observed in noble metal nanocrystals (NCs). It leads to strong light scattering and enhanced light-matter interaction. However, the LSPR of metal NCs is restricted to visible wavelengths, unless multipole resonances are enhanced via shape engineering of the NCs.
Recently, two papers were published showing that copper-deficient semiconductor Cu2-xS(e) NCs can also exhibit a strong LSPR, in the near-infrared (NIR) spectral region. This exciting result both pushes the LSPR to longer wavelengths and allows plasmonics using semiconductor materials, which are transparent near the LSPR wavelength.
The project aims at expanding this new field by focusing on the fabrication of a NIR photovoltaic cell with enhanced performance. This is achieved through incorporation of NIR plasmonics NCs, which allow improved absorption in the active layer via strong light scattering in NC thin film and an enhancement of the electric field near the NC surface. Two crucial steps need to be taken to achieve our goals. First, we need to further develop the synthesis of novel NIR plasmonic NCs. The focus lies here on a tuning of the spectral position and width of the LSPR by varying the Cu2-xS(e) material composition, size and shape, in order to optimize the NC scattering cross section and field enhancement at the desired NIR wavelength. Second, strategies will be developed to incorporate the plasmonic NCs into novel NC-based thin film photovoltaic cells. The device performance will be evaluated with and without plasmonic NCs, for different thin film configurations, in order to quantify the efficiency enhancement.
Considering that our devices combine an improved absorption with an expansion of the photovoltaic response into the NIR, we expect that NC-based photovoltaics can offer a viable low-cost alternative to current solar cell technologies."
Fields of science
- engineering and technologymaterials engineeringcoating and films
- natural sciencesphysical scienceselectromagnetism and electronicselectrical conductivitysemiconductor
- engineering and technologynanotechnologynano-materialsnanocrystal
- natural scienceschemical sciencesinorganic chemistrymetals
- engineering and technologyenvironmental engineeringenergy and fuelsrenewable energysolar energy
- medical and health sciencesmedical biotechnologycells technologies
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