Nanoscale Tailored Plasmonic Material for Optimum Broadband Solar Harvesting

Publication highlight: Associate Prof. Dominic Zerulla

Journal reference: Advanced Optical Materials, 4, 413 (2016)

Is it possible to design a dedicated nanostructure on which all surface features contribute entirely to energy harvesting within a solar cell? This is an important challenge in the light that the efficiency of the solar cell technology utilized has a direct impact on the required land use and also on reaching grid parity. Here, a unique approach is used and an analytically derived optimum solution to the problem is presented: a nanoscale metal topography, capable of significantly improving the efficiency of solid state solar cells via excitation of surface plasmon polaritons (SPPs). The presented structure is designed to achieve broadband excitation of SPPs through the highest possible density of desired k -vectors at the interface. This leads to high weighted absorption enhancements (>130%) and unprecedented improvements (>30%) of solar cell external quantum efficiencies over the entire harvestable range.